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Myths and realities of Medicare bidding program for durable medical equipment

May 15, 2017

So far, the bill has 254 cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives with broad bipartisan support. More than half of both the Democratic and Republican delegations in the House support the bill, including California Representatives Joe Baca (D), Brian Bilbray (R), Mary Bono Mack (R), Ken Calvert (R), Rep. Susan Davis (D), Rep. Sam Farr (D), Rep. Bob Filner (D), Rep. Jerry Lewis (R), Rep. Buck McKeon (R), Rep. Devin Nunes (R), Rep. Linda Sanchez (D), Rep. Adam Schiff (D), Rep. Mike Thompson (D) and Rep. Diane Watson (D).

Patient and consumer groups that support the elimination of Medicare's "competitive" bidding program for durable medical equipment include the ALS Association, the American Association for Respiratory Care, the American Association of People with Disabilities, International Ventilator Users Network, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Emphysema/COPD Association, National Spinal Cord Injury Association, and Post-Polio Health International, among others.

Proponents of the Medicare bidding program for durable medical equipment have perpetuated several myths about the program. However, the reality is quite different.

MYTH:  The bidding program will be good for Medicare beneficiaries.

REALITY: It will, in fact, reduce access to medically required equipment and services.

MYTH:  The program will eliminate Medicare fraud in the durable medical equipment sector.

REALITY: The solution to fraud is better screening of providers, real-time claims audits, stiffer penalties, and better enforcement mechanisms for Medicare ?? steps that the home medical providers support.

MYTH: Providers will be competing on quality and price.

REALITY: The bidding program will ration care. Home medical equipment providers already compete on the basis of quality and help move people smoothly from hospitals to cost-effective care at home.

MYTH:  The bidding program will make healthcare more cost-effective.

REALITY: The home is already the most cost-effective setting for post-acute care. As more people receive good equipment and services at home, the U.S. will spend less on longer hospital stays, emergency room visits, and nursing home admissions.

SOURCE California Association of Medical Product Suppliers