Medicare Competitive Bidding Program Under Congressional Scrutiny
On Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on the issue of competitive bidding of durable medical equipment (DME) under the Medicare Fee-For-Service program. As a member of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), as well as the Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid (ITEM) Coalition, BIAA signed on to several letters urging Congress to ensure that the Medicare competitive bidding program does not decrease access to and the quality of assistive devices.
The competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment, orthotics, prosthetics, and supplies was enacted as part of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, although the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) is just now beginning to implement the first round of the program. The program is expected to lower Medicare reimbursements to DME suppliers by 26 percent, and disability rights organizations including are concerned this will result in a decrease in the quality of assistive devices and technologies, which are essential to the consumer's function and independence.
The testimony given by Peter W. Thomas, Co-Chair of CCD's Health Task Force – as well as the coalition letters BIAA recently signed on to – call on Congress and the Administration to delay implementation of the competitive bidding program and/or initiate appropriate safeguards to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not harmed as a result of the program's implementation. Implementation of the first round of the program is scheduled to begin on July 1, 2008.
To view a copy of the CCD and ITEM coalition letters BIAA signed on to this week, please visit our website at http://www.biausa.org/policyissues.htm.