(Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C.) North Carolina’s leader in home medical equipment advocacy and education, NCAMES, is mobilizing its membership base to support efforts led by Rep. Sue Myrick (R - NC, 9th District) to have the Federal government address fatal flaws in a bidding program affecting thousands of seniors and patients in need beginning in January 2011. The bidding program decides which home medical equipment companies can service patients who use Medicare to pay for their equipment.
Copies of a November 24 letter co-signed by Rep. Myrick and Rep. Bruce Braley (D - IA, 1st District) which was sent to Donald Berwick, M.D., Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), were distributed to hundreds of NCAMES member companies statewide. In the letter, Reps. Myrick and Braley press Dr. Berwick about a recent study revealing that more than 40 percent of the companies selected by CMS’ flawed bidding program to provide HME services are financially unstable and unable to provide necessary medical supplies.
“The bidding program managed by Dr. Berwick’s agency is killing small businesses across North Carolina and needlessly endangering thousands of home medical equipment patients,” Beth Bowen, NCAMES Executive Director, said.
According to Bowen, testimony at a Congressional Subcommittee hearing this past September was overwhelmingly against the CMS bidding program, with example after example given of its negative effects such as forcing home health care patients into institutional care. Bi-partisan support for halting the bidding program has been growing over the past few months, Bowen said, with elected officials like Rep. Myrick pushing CMS harder to address concerns.
For example, Rep. Myrick pointed-out in her letter that many contract winners chosen by CMS actually have credit limits of less than $10,000, are on credit hold, or are so far behind on their payments that their accounts have been turned over for collections or legal process.
The CMS bidding program, “has a poor track record” Myrick wrote, emphasizing that seniors will have difficulty obtaining the supplies and services they need, and “The new system could drive out quality suppliers who have reliably served seniors in the past.”
Industry advocates are lobbying for an administrative delay in the CMS bidding program, Bowen said, which would help longtime HME providers in the greater Charlotte area recover from “suicide bids” or service reductions caused by losing bids. Ultimately, hundreds of HME providers across North Carolina and thousands of their patients will see service interruptions and job losses if the program is allowed to continue.
“We’re hoping that Dr. Berwick and CMS listen to our elected officials, our industry, and our patients instead of trying to ram something down our throats in the name of political expediency,” Bowen said.
Incrementally rolled-out in nine metropolitan areas throughout the U.S., including Charlotte, the CMS bidding program will expand to over 80 more cities in 2011-2012.
More information is available online at SaveJobsNC.com.
With close to 300 member companies and growing, the North Carolina Association for Medical Equipment Services (NCAMES) is the statewide leader in preserving access to safe, affordable, and therapeutic home medical equipment. We provide advocacy and education to home medical equipment (HME) providers statewide dedicated to helping North Carolinas growing senior population and patients of all ages gain more mobility and experience a high quality of life in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. Instrumental in passing the nations first HME licensure law which has been working to ensure quality home health care since 1995, NCAMES continues to advocate for seniors and patients in need. For more information, visit www.ncames.org or call (919)-387-1221.