AAHomecare Joins Coalition to Repeal Competitive Bidding
The American Association for Homecare has joined other health care stakeholders in forming a coalition to explore the repeal of competitive bidding.
The Coalition to Ensure Beneficiary Access will “reach out to a wide array of patient and provider stakeholders to demonstrate broad support for a repeal of competitive bidding,” the association said.
An initial meeting of the group included representatives from the National Association for the Support of Long Term Care, the Health Industry Distributors Association, several industry providers and manufacturers, and the ITEM Coalition, whose members include more than 70 health care advocacy organizations.
“AAHomecare has consistently questioned the merits of competitive bidding and expressed concerns about its effects on patient access to home care and its impact on small providers,” said Tyler Wilson, association president. “We also question whether competitive bidding will produce the savings for Medicare that have been projected.”
Because DME competitive bidding was enacted into law as part of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, Congress must pass another law to repeal it.
CMS is ramping up its bidding program now and will name 10 MSAs where bidding will begin later this year. The program will expand to another 80 areas, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, in 2009.
The coalition effort will focus on five principles:
Accreditation and quality standards are critically important and a positive step forward. The Medicare program has taken the necessary steps to combat fraud and abuse and to ensure that beneficiaries have access to high-quality DMEPOS items.
Beneficiaries lose under competitive bidding. The administrative process of bidding within select regions for select products will result in reduced availability of products to individuals in certain areas of the country. If fully implemented, beneficiaries would be the ultimate losers.
Competitive bidding will create a bureaucracy. In order to implement competitive bidding, CMS will also construct a bureaucracy, and the full costs are not taken into consideration. These expenses may negate any potential savings of competitive bidding.
Small businesses will be harmed. Small businesses will be unable to be as price-competitive as larger companies. CMS also stated that as few as two suppliers could be selected for a product category in a competitive bid area, which would result in further erosion of the small business community.
There is a better approach to competitive bidding. The coalition will pursue an approach that secures savings, foregoes a new federal bureaucracy and protects beneficiaries and small businesses.