Medicare Bidding Fight, Inspirational Talk by Ms. Wheelchair America Featured at NCAMES Summer Meeting June 15-17
(Raleigh, N.C.) North Carolina’s leader in home medical equipment (HME) advocacy and education, NCAMES, is hosting Tar Heel native Alexandra McArthur, Ms. Wheelchair America 2011, as special guest at its 2011 Summer Meeting June 15-17 in Wrightsville Beach. Diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy at age seven, the 23-year-old McArthur will be speaking to attendees on how HME mobility products and services have helped her overcome her disability and enjoy everyday life.
“Alexandra’s story is both inspirational and reaffirming,” NCAMES Board President Marcia Ladd said. Ladd, who has been running medical equipment supply store Triangle Aftercare in Durham for 16 years, explained that stories like McArthur’s demonstrate the value and importance of local HME care.
“Those of us who have been in the business a long time meet people like Alexandra who go on to achieve great things in their lives with the help of HME products and services,” she said, adding, “Hearing her speak is going to be a highlight for many of us, we’re truly honored to have her.”
McArthur graduated Cum Laude from Davidson College with a Bachelors of Arts in history. She completed a two-year fellowship at Davidson in the Center for Leadership Development. In 2012, she will move to New York City as a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs.
In the second grade, her sister Park was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. Soon after, Alexandra was also diagnosed. As her family struggled with the news, Alexandra relished the idea that it made her more like her older sister.
Van Products Mobility is sponsoring McArthur’s trip to the NCAMES 2011 Summer Meeting and providing her transportation and lodging needs.
In addition to her motivational keynote, the event will feature multiple presentations on HME industry issues such as accreditation renewal; properly addressing regulatory stumbling blocks to better care; managing staff, billing and collections; dealing with new efforts from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) targeting bidding for HME services for Medicare beneficiaries; and preparing a submitting a Round 2 bid.
Round 1 of Medicare’s bidding program was implemented in nine metropolitan areas throughout the country in January 2011, including Charlotte. Round 2 will expand the program to an additional 91 areas across North Carolina and the U.S. later this year. This highly criticized, restrictive government oversight program dictates which HME businesses may continue to service patients in need of equipment and services such as oxygen therapy, enteral nutrients (tube feeding), continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) and respiratory assistive devices, power wheelchairs, walkers and hospital beds.
Patients in North Carolina and throughout the U.S. have been reporting widespread difficulty finding a local equipment or service provider, dangerous delays in obtaining medically required equipment and services, and longer than necessary, expensive hospital stays due to trouble being discharged. HME providers have reported cutbacks in services, staffing layoffs, and sub-industry “suicide bids” caused by the bidding program.
NCAMES has endorsed H.R. 1041, new legislation introduced in March of this year to repeal the bidding program. Called the Fairness in Medicare Bidding Act, it currently has 116 cosponsors including several North Carolina Representatives.
Numerous economists and industry leaders continue to rail against the bidding program, including University of Maryland professor Peter Cramton who has testified multiple times in front of Congress, warning that the program will fail. Cramton issued a warning to Congress last September co-signed by 166 other economists criticizing the program’s design and identifying fatal flaws such as non-binding bids and a system that encourages lowball bids not based on costs.
“Professor Cramton and others have examined the program and can see that it is going to lead to lower, unreliable product and service quality as well as supply shortages and market consolidation,” NCAMES Executive Director Beth Bowen said.
According to Bowen, who has seen NCAMES membership grow ten-fold since she began working with the organization in 1991, the bidding program is poised to have a disastrous effect on long-time, local providers across the state and thousands of their patients. If Medicare’s bidding program is allowed to continue, she explained, it is going to encourage monopolies by larger out-of-state HME suppliers who will be the only ones able to provide products and services at low prices approved by the Federal government.
“Medicare is literally killing quality service from dependable local providers and costing hundreds of jobs in the middle of a recession,” she said.
NCAMES is continuing to actively educate patients, government and business leaders on the devastating effects of Medicare’s HME bidding program, in addition to directly lobbying elected officials in the U.S. House and Senate. The organization has launched YouTube.com/SaveJobsNC and is engaged in other educational outreach to inform taxpayers in North Carolina and throughout the country how much the Medicare HME bidding program is costing in terms of money, jobs and innovations in life-sustaining in-home care.
For more details on the restrictive Medicare bidding program and its effects on patients and jobs in North Carolina, visit www.savejobsnc.com.
With close to 300 member companies and growing, the North Carolina Association for Medical Equipment Services (NCAMES) is the statewide leader in preserving access to safe, affordable, and therapeutic home medical equipment. We provide advocacy and education to home medical equipment (HME) providers statewide dedicated to helping North Carolina’s growing senior population and patients of all ages gain more mobility and experience a high quality of life in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. Instrumental in passing the nations first HME licensure law which has been working to ensure quality home health care since 1995, NCAMES continues to advocate for seniors and patients in need. For more information, visit www.ncames.org or call (919) 387-1221.
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