Cynthia Morton, 3/1/2011
For Immediate Release
Contact: Cynthia Morton
PATIENTS LOSE UNDER DMEPOS COMPETITIVE BIDDING PROGRAM
Defects in "Drive-By" Bidding Process Lead to Flawed Policy
March 1, 2011 (Alexandria, VA) - Speaking to a Capitol Hill audience at a congressional briefing on the DMEPOS competitive bidding program, Cynthia Morton, Executive Vice President of the National Association for the Support of Long Term Care (NASL), criticized defects in the program that will lead to serious ramifications for Medicare beneficiaries.
The congressional briefing was sponsored by Representatives Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Jason Altmire (D-PA) and was intended to introduce new legislators to the flawed program affecting Medicare patients dependent upon enteral nutrition, oxygen supplies, wheelchairs, mail-order diabetic supplies, nighttime breathing devices, hospital beds, support surfaces for beds and walkers.
In her statement, Morton pointed to flaws in the bidding process, the negative effect felt by patients in long term care facilities and the lack of grandfathering for all product categories (which would enable suppliers to continue serving patients if they meet the new payment rates). “NASL is concerned that the DMEPOS competitive bidding will compromise care for Medicare beneficiaries by restricting their access to vital products and services, undercutting the quality of items and services that they are furnished and diminishing the timely responsiveness to their needs,” she said.
Morton said, “The process allowed bidders to submit low bids ostensibly to gain access to the market but they were not bound by their bids, so they could later drop out of the process, but the resulting price remained influenced by these “drive-by bidders.” Morton added, “CMS has the authority to expand this program to the rest of the country despite the structural flaws.”
Morton also noted that the competitive bidding program is a poor fit for patients in long term care facilities. “Competitive bidding was designed for beneficiaries who are mobile and not institutionalized, and it fails to address the numerous challenges that it has created for long term care facilities,” she said.
Morton concluded her remarks by saying, “it appears that some of the aspects of the competitive bidding program are based more on math than on good policy. The focus on cost savings has driven the program beyond rational limits and rational processes – this needs to be fixed.”
The DMEPOS competitive bidding program was implemented in nine metropolitan areas on January 1, and it is scheduled to expand to 100 metro areas, including Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City later this year.
Access a full written statement at http://www.nasl.org/files/members/products/Testimony%20for%20Cynthia%20Morton-3-1-11.pdf. For additional information on the DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program visit the NASL website at http://www.nasl.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=3289
The National Association for the Support of Long Term Care (NASL) is a trade association representing providers of both ancillary services and products to the long-term care industry. Member companies provide speech-language pathology; physical, occupational and respiratory therapy; portable x-ray/EKG and ultrasound; pharmacy; long-term care (LTC) information technology systems; and other ancillary services. NASL members also provide products such as complex medical equipment; parenteral and enteral supplies, equipment and nutrients; and additional specialized supplies for post-acute care settings nationally.
If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact NASL, 1321 Duke Street, Suite 304, Alexandria, Virginia, 22314-3563, (703) 549-8500, firstname.lastname@example.org.