Bipartisan legislation introduced yesterday in the House and Senate by Representatives Tiberi (R-Ohio) and Larson (D-Conn.) and Senators Portman (R-Ohio) and Cardin (D-Md.) would require bidders to stand by their bids and stop speculators from gaming Medicare contract auctions for home medical equipment. Three Senators and 26 House members have joined as cosponsors as of Tuesday morning.
H.R. 284 and S. 148, would make all bids binding. Similar to legislation filed in late 2014, the bills are a bipartisan, budget neutral way to address a major flaw in how Medicare contracts are awarded. Download the FAQs on binding bids to learn more.
With the next cycle of competitive bidding opening in less than two weeks, Congress must act now protect Medicare beneficiary access to critical medical equipment. Click here to email your elected officials and ask them to support these bills.
“It’s clear that disability advocates, economists and auction experts have all been correct in criticizing the bidding program,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “The network of DMEPOS providers has been broken, and hundreds of providers across the country have gone out of business or downsized. This means that the most vulnerable people in our society, seniors and people living with disabilities, are having a difficult time accessing home medical equipment prescribed by their physicians.”
The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) plans to look into whether Medicare beneficiaries' access to durable medical equipment has been hurt by the competitive bidding program. The OIG late last month told Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) that, after 137 House members asked the OIG to look into the DME competitive bidding program in July, it will conduct a national study looking at beneficiaries' access to DME.
“This legislation will help CMS avoid repeating the mistakes of the past,” said Ryan. “The current prices set by CMS are the product of a profoundly flawed program and do not reflect the true cost of doing business. Requiring bidders to stand by their bids will result in bids that are serious and sustainable; essential elements missing from the current process.” "This is an opportunity for the House and Senate to show that they can get things done," said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations at Invacare. "By quickly passing this bipartisan, budget neutral legislation, Congress can help CMS reverse the unintended consequences of a flaw in the Medicare bidding program."