Saturday, August 20, 2011

Medicare Open Bidding ~ A Start ! Prescription Drugs Next ?

Medicare says Competitive Pricing will $ave $28B
By Sam Baker - 08/19/11

Medicare is dramatically expanding a program that it says will save billions of dollars and serve as a model for other cost-cutting efforts.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Friday announced the second round of a program that uses competitive bidding to set prices for certain medical products. Medicare now uses competitive bidding in nine cities and will expand to 91 areas, according to the Friday announcement. In its first six months, the nine-city competitive bidding program has saved roughly $130 million, CMS officials said. The agency expects to save $28 billion over the next 10 years, roughly a third of which would be savings to patients. “The president has clearly acknowledged the need for further savings to implement (in) the Medicare program, but I think we also need to take stock and take credit for what’s been achieved so far, and from a CMS perspective, DME competitive bidding is one that we’re proud of and one we believe is working,” CMS Deputy Administrator Jonathan Blum said. The competitive bidding program is limited to durable medical equipment — such products as wheelchairs, oxygen supplies and hospital beds. Blum said CMS is open to expanding competitive bidding outside of durable medical equipment in the future but is focused for now on expanding the existing program to more areas. Competitive bidding has faced criticism from the medical device industry. It is partially replacing a system in which Medicare simply set payment rates for medical products. CMS officials said the agency is paying 35 percent less for products covered by competitive bidding. The industry has also raised concerns that patients will lose access to important devices if bids are too low. Blum said that hasn’t happened in the initial phase of the bidding program, adding that CMS set up a system to monitor complaints and respond to any access problems. But none have been reported so far, he said, and “no one has disputed this information.” The laws directing CMS to expand the program also dictated how it picked the areas where the competitive pricing will become available, Blum said.

Super Committee Information Available from Social Security Works

Social Security Works, an umbrella group encompassing over 300 organizations – including the Alliance – all working to protect Social Security, has created a web page that provides information about the 12 members of the powerful Joint Select Committee on Budget Deficit Reduction, also known as the Super Committee. The webpage, at , highlights the votes Super Committee members have taken on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and raising new revenues in 2011. Some of their personal statements about these issues are also provided.

Editorial : This is a great start. Now, on too Prescription Drug Coverage !

1 comment:

Beth said...

Medicare continues to spin this horrible program into something good, without truthfully researching the consequences.

- Beneficiaries in competitive bidding areas have experienced delays lasting for MONTHS in receiving equipment and service due to a shortage of medical equipment providers.

-Beneficiaries complain that they are forced to change the brand of equipment they used. They are forced to dispose of their old equipment and take a cheaper, lower quality brand.

-Hospital caseworkers and home health care workers complain that patients are spending longer time in the hospital because the equipment necessary for discharge is not available.

-Physical therapists recognize that the newly contracted providers lack training and certifications meant to serve patients better and more efficiently.

When we called Medicare to ask a simple question, it took 40 minutes to find an incomplete answer. If they truly have received NO complaints as reported, perhaps seniors didn't feel like spending hours of their time on the telephone with Medicare operators.

Find more information about how the program is impacting beneficiaires at