Is Medicare's Competitive Bidding Program Killing Seniors?
"charts in the CMS report show that death rates were higher in Pittsburgh, where products are competitively bid, compared with Detroit, where there is no bidding." - Inside Health Policy
CMS claims that there are no adverse health consequences from their "competitive bidding" program for durable medical equipment. The numbers seem to be telling a different story.
An economist at the University of Maryland who studied CMS data concluded that,
"the CMS data through September 2011 show the impact of declines in utilization of Medicare
DME. In all cases, the result is a higher risk of death, a higher frequency of ER visits and hospitalization, and longer hospital stays."
Medicare beneficiaries and their families have left no doubt as to their views on the health consequences of the Medicare program. Comments from callers to CRE's hotline included:
"Yes, I am calling in regards to this competitive bidding. I think this is very unfair. First of all I'd like to know what about Congress? All the money that they make and are they not getting any benefits taken away from them. They get the best healthcare, they get the best of everything. This is not fair to the American people." - Detroit, MI
"I am calling regarding what has happened with being a witness to watching what my mother's had to go through just to get a piece of equipment for her sleep apnea monitor/machine and we have been to 3 different...companies trying to find out who could service here at this point. ... I think you can't Wal-Mart health care and what's the next thing, Euthanasia, that's what it looks like it is coming to." - Charlotte, NC
"What are you trying to do, take the very air I breathe? I have diabetes, I have a bone disease, I have a health problem, I'm on oxygen, I'm on insulin. My God, the next thing you take away from me is going to take my life. Alright go ahead and take my life. Take every other elderly person's life. Just put us out in the street and shoot us. That's the only next thing you can do." - Oxford, MS
The Department of Health and Human Services is planning to "vastly expand" competitive bidding for DME to almost all Medicare beneficiaries. American seniors and their families will bear the consequences of HHS's decision to expand the use of "competitive bidding" without even conducting a proper assessment of its impact.