Industry Mobilizes NCB Repeal Effort During Congressional Break

With Congress out till June 7 for the Memorial Day recess, DME industry leaders urged stakeholders to reach out to their representatives and senators and urge them to support the repeal of Medicare's national competitive bidding program.

A bulletin from the National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers (NAIMES) described the current recess as "the last real opportunity to have any quality time with your representatives before the election in November."

NAIMES also urged suppliers to call their senators' offices to ask for their support.

The organization reported that as of June 1, H.R. 3790, the House bill that would repeal competitive bidding, had 242 co-sponsors, plus the support of Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.), who introduced the bill. NAIMES has said it is hoping to sign an additional 25 co-sponsors by June 8.

In a bulletin sent to its members, the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) asked suppliers and providers to "to take action by calling, meeting with, and e-mailing your representatives to ask for strong support of H.R. 3790, the legislation to replace the 'competitive' bidding program. If your member in the House of Representatives has not yet co-sponsored the legislation, please ask him or her to do so. If your lawmaker is already a co-sponsor, it is critical that you ask your Representative to speak with House leadership about attaching H.R. 3790 to legislation coming up for a vote."

Other industry organizations involved in this effort include CSIHME, The MED Group and The VGM Group, as well numerous state associations.

A pre-holiday weekend bulletin sent out by AAHomecare, NAIMES and other entities listed the following talking points for suppliers to share with representatives currently not signed on as H.R. 3790 co-sponsors:

  • This "competitive" bidding program restricts access and choice for HME items and services.
  • It will trigger a race to the bottom in terms of quality, and less expensive items will be provided to patients. With a loss of providers, expedient deliveries of items and services will be eliminated, and Medicare costs will increase.
  • The bid program is anti-competitive and reduces the number of competitors. During Round One, 80 to 90 percent of HME service providers would have been barred from the Medicare program.
  • The bidding program will increase Medicare costs by disrupting the continuum and coordination of care between doctors, discharge planners, patients, and HME providers. In turn, it will lead to longer, more expensive hospital stays and more physician office visits, nursing home admissions, and emergency room visits.
  • We want to assure you that the home medical equipment sector will have an appropriate offset as part of any legislation that may move through Congress. The Congressional Budget Office is working through this issue now. And please remember, the reasons for enacting competitive bidding in 2003 have already been achieved: Congress has made significant cuts to Medicare's durable medical equipment reimbursement rates in recent years. Additionally, new quality standards and new mandatory accreditation and surety bond requirements in Medicare took effect last year.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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