• Senator Lugar Sends Letter to Senate Finance Committee Regarding Medicare Bidding Program

    From: VGM

    The following is from the Association of Indiana Home Medical Equipment Services (AIHMES). VGM would like to thank both George Kucka (Fairmeadows Home Health Center) and Wayne Knewasser (Premier Home Care) for their work with Senator Lugar’s office to educate both the Senator and his staff on the issues and problems that providers and Medicare beneficiaries are facing with the flawed bidding program. Both Kucka and Knewasser are VGM and AIHMES members.  

  • Bid policy hurts patients

    From: The Augusta Chronicle

    By Barry Bryant, David Petsch, Eric Holgate, Hank Wickware and Tommy Battle
    Medicare will implement “competitive bidding” in the CSRA by 2013. Currently companies in the CSRA, and those outside of our area, are completing bid proposals to compete for contracts to provide your home medical services.
    While Medicare desires to save money by reducing the number of providers and payments rates, Medicare patients may experience changes in the levels of service they have grown accustomed to receiving to remain safe and independent in their homes.
    Current data shows a dramatic drop in the use of oxygen, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, hospital beds, wheelchairs and other home medical items in areas where competitive bidding already has been implemented. It is expected that more emergency room visits, hospitalizations and nursing home admissions will result from a reduction in providers of these services to seniors.
    For now, you, the physician, the social worker or other referral sources choose local companies to provide your services. But if contracts are awarded as a result of competitive bidding, only companies that receive contracts will be allowed to provide services to you. You may have to change your service provider to a company that is unfamiliar with your current medical conditions.
    Home medical equipment and services are one of the most cost-effective alternatives to expensive institutional care, and represent our best solution for controlling spending growth in Medicare. Your health is not a commodity that should be auctioned off to the lowest bidder!
    Congress can and should stop the Medicare competitive bidding program for home medical equipment and services, and instead concentrate on eliminating wasteful government spending – not saddling our seniors with cut-rate medical care! We never needed Washington to tell us how to care for our seniors, and we don’t now! Tell Congress to stop these attempts to cut back on senior home care.
    (The writers are Augusta-area home medical service providers.)
  • Think a 32% cut is bad? Try 50%

    From: HME News

    By Liz Beaulieu, Editor

    A series of steep cuts to Medicare reimbursement for overnight oximetry threaten to consolidate the number of vendors that provide that service and, as a result, limit the options of HME providers.

    Since 2008, the relative value unit (RVU), which helps determine reimbursement, for CPT code 94762 has dropped from 0.84 to 0.44, about 50%. That means, for example, reimbursement in Alabama has decreased from $23.72 in 2008 to $13.29 in 2012.

  • Beneficiaries in Round 2 bid area get wakeup call

    From: HME News

    By Elizabeth Deprey, Associate Editor

    PHILADELPHIA – Medicare beneficiaries in Philadelphia, a Round 2 competitive bidding area, have no idea what’s coming their way, industry stakeholders say.

    As part of a Town Hall Teleconference hosted by People for Quality Care (PFQC) last week, The VGM Group’s John Gallagher polled listeners and found that 100% did not know about competitive bidding and 95% did not believe the government should choose their healthcare provider. That’s not a surprise to Kelly Turner, executive director of the PFQC.

    “Most people don’t learn about competitive bidding until their provider is taken away,” she said.

  • President’s Budget Declares War on Medicaid Recipients

    WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness reports that the President’s Budget proposes to slash reimbursement to state Medicaid programs for beneficiaries who use home oxygen and other Durable Medical Equipment.  The proposed budget would cripple the ability of Medicaid beneficiaries to remain in their homes. Instead of protecting the viability of home medical care as a cost-saving alternative to more frequent hospital admittances and prolonged nursing facility care, the Budget proposes to extend a discredited payment system which is already reducing Medicare beneficiaries’ access to life-sustaining care.

  • Bidding issues hamper access to home medical equipment

    From: Standard-Examiner

    By Kory Young


    As a home medical equipment (HME) provider, I am concerned with significant flaws in the current competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment (DME) in Medicare.

    Over 200 economists and auction experts from around the world have publicly stated that the current Medicare competitive bidding program is not sustainable in its current form. It will create significant barriers to access and will destroy the HME infrastructure upon which our seniors and people with disabilities rely.

  • AmMed Direct to layoff 223 employees

    From: The Tennessean

    Diabetic supply house plans to sell to Florida-based competitor, close shop

    By Getahn Ward

    Competition in the diabetic supply business led AmMed Direct LLC to give layoff notices to its 223 employees on Tuesday as it prepares to sell assets to a Florida-based competitor and then stop operating.

    The deal with Arriva Medical of Coral Springs, Fla., is part of a consolidation trend in the mail-order diabetic supply business as regulatory changes create uncertainty.

    Medicare, for instance, is rolling out a new competitive bidding system to determine which companies would continue to provide supplies to its beneficiaries and at what price — perhaps lower rates.

  • CMS weighs in on bid data

    From: HME News

    BALTIMORE – No sooner had Prof. Peter Cramton released a report that showed 60% to 80% declines in Medicare claims for home medical equipment in Round 1 competitive bidding areas (CBAs), than CMS was dismissing the data.

  • Health Reform Built to Fail

    Editor’s Note:  The WSJ’s analysis and conclusions regarding CMS’ fatally-flawed competitive bidding progam with respect to negative pressure wound therapy also apply to the other home medical equipment and related services procured under the program.

    From: Wall Street Journal

    How Medicare rigs competitive bidding and hurts patients.

    Americans may not be familiar with the medical innovation called negative pressure wound therapy, though it has helped hundreds of thousands of patients with complex or chronic injuries like burns or diabetic ulcer complications that could never heal on their own. Now President Obama’s Medicare team is about to severely damage this field, and many others too—all in the name of reforming how the entitlement pays for care.

  • A Federal Auction in Desperate Need of Reform

    From: Syracuse Journal-Democrat

    By Reginald Nesbitt, MD, MBA

    Syracuse, Neb. —

    On the hit A&E cable show “Storage Wars,” competing buyers take a peek inside foreclosed self-storage lockers, guess what might be hidden inside, then bid for the salvage rights. It’s entertaining television. But it’s a terrible model for the federal government acquire life-and-death treatments for Medicare patients.

    Yet that’s almost exactly what’s happening. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is expanding its new bidding process to an advanced therapy for chronic wound healing. CMS won’t require suppliers to prove competency with the therapy. If bidding goes forward as planned, millions of public insurance beneficiaries could have their health jeopardized.