• Extension of Medicare bidding program: Social Media reactions

    From: Health Care Finance News

     little over a week ago, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported on the extension of the competitive bidding program. The plan of action was created to help lower costs medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies. The plan also increases competition for suppliers, while controlling payment rates for medical equipment and supplies.

    CMS has stated that round one of bidding has saved 35 percent of costs compared to the fee schedule. While the first phase of the program was implemented for nine product categories in nine cities January 1, 2011, the second phase will launch with new prices on July 1, 2013. 91 metropolitan areas are arranged to be included.

    With national budget crises and many in Congress fearing healthcare will be taking a back seat these days, we decided to ask our Healthcare Finance News social media followers how they felt this program would perform.

    User @colvindesigns commented on the Healthcare Finance News story, “Medicare expanding competitive bidding program amid controversy,” showing concern for this new initiative.

    @Colvindesigns said that the competitive bidding program was a disaster, stating that it will intentionally bankrupt 60 to 80 percent of the small providers and reduce access to quality equipment and supplies for the home care disabled.

    “The program is now producing exactly what it was designed to do,” he explained. “In the meantime Medicare continues to outright lie to Congress that everything is going great, saving money, and no complaints from beneficiaries.”

    He continued to comment on the major layoffs taking place in the homecare industry because of this program. “Quality care is quickly becoming a thing of the past and programs like this are the reason. Congress needs to wake up and take a stand against this nonsense.”

    People with disabilities seem to be a common concern among our social media followers.

    QualityCare remarked that seniors, people with disabilities and healthcare professionals throughout the nine areas have already been reporting delays in service and hospital discharge.

    “In several instances, beneficiaries waited more than a month to receive diabetic supplies and batteries for their power wheelchairs or scooters,” he said.

    QualityCare’s company, People for Quality Care, also conducted a poll, where 84 percent of participants in the Kansas City area were unaware that they were not able to use their medical equipment providers anymore. The user concluded that this shows the lack in communication by the Medicare program.

    “Medicare’s analysis of their own program lacks honest review and will continue to inconvenience, and in some cases, harm beneficiaries,” he added.

    The storm is heating up on Twitter, as well.

    Healthcare IT News Twitter follower @groenpj said that reducing the costs through competition makes sense. “CMS [is] following in the footsteps of the VA. It works.”

    While @Hanceford finds it “unbelievable” that the bidding plan is moving forward, @MelissaColeLLC said it “looks lean for all.”

    In our breaking news of the topic, Healthcare Finance News Editor Stephanie Bouchard sourced Jonathan Blum, deputy CMS administrator and director of the Center of Medicare. Blum said in the statement that the success CMS has had in the first phase of the launch tells the department they can achieve savings with no disruption for patient’s access, while having no negative effects on their health.

    Social media followers, like the ones credited above, tend to disagree.

    Here are some other Twitter reactions to the new incentive plan:

    SavetheCountru1: “I have a republican friend who is going on disability, Medicare. I told him he has to vote democrat from now on.”

    BigDawgPatriots: “Jobs are tight, Medicare will eliminate 50% medical equipment companies to ‘increase competition.’ Anyone paying attn?”

    Woundedwarriors: “A Veteran’s under Tricare For Life & Medicare should NEVER be refused equipment, medication, etc. if ordered by doctor.”

    Epee4fun: “Take the profit motive out of health care delivery. Let the Feds negotiates pricing as part of Medicare Part D.”

    Projectmat: “One medicine my Medicare mom takes is over $400/month. She is being told it will become short supply due to govt restrictions.”

    Redsoxunixgeek: “Medicare is an important program, but its current path is not sustainable over the long term.”

    RebeccaCoelius: “Glad Medicare now doing equipment bidding, but this only started in JANUARY? And still no ability to negotiate drug $$.”

    CSMonitor: “The first maybe useful gov’t cost reduction I have read.”

    Medication: “Time to fight for already poor reimbursements. Your family doc will hurt.”

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