Senate Approves Bill to Delay Competitive Bidding, Carve Out Rehab

The Senate has passed the bill that would reform competitive bidding, postpone the program's implementation for 18 months and exclude complex power rehab wheelchairs and accessories.

The bill next goes to President Bush, who has threatened to veto it. However, HR. 6331's strong showing in the House, along with today's 69-30 vote in the Senate, would seem to indicate that the bill has enough support to override a veto.

Last week, the Senate cloture vote fell one vote shy of passing before the Independence Day holiday, with Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) the only two senators not casting votes.

Kennedy, after missing last week's vote while he continues to recuperate from surgery and treatment for a brain tumor, made a dramatic return to the Senate today in time to cast his "yea" vote.

McCain did not cast a vote.

“Homecare advocates a deserve hearty congratulations for achieving a critical congressional milestone toward delay and reform of the competitive bidding program,” said Tyler Wilson, president of the American Association for Homecare, in a Wednesday afternoon statement.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented the first round of competitive bidding on July 1.

In addition to postponing competitive bidding, the bill would exempt complex power rehab, defined as wheelchairs that Medicare classifies as Group 3 or higher, plus accessories sold with those chairs.

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