Medicare Projects Senior Citizens to See Big Savings
on Medical Equipment, Supplies
Competitive bidding program focuses on lower costs
for items like power wheelchairs, oxygen equipment, diabetic supplies
as much as 32% off
16, 2011 Senior citizens in Medicare could pay up to 32 percent less
for certain medical equipment and supplies, such as oxygen equipment,
certain power wheelchairs and mail order diabetic supplies, according to
an announcement today by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
These savings are expected to results from the
first phase of the Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics,
and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Program which began January 1,
2011, in nine different areas of the country.oxygen
Through supplier competition, the program set new,
lower payment rates for certain medical equipment and supplies.
In most cases, Medicare beneficiaries who obtain
these items in the nine competitive bidding areas will need to get them
from the Medicare suppliers that were awarded contracts in order to have
the items covered under Medicare. More than four million Medicare
beneficiaries living in the nine competitive bidding areas can save
money through this new program, while continuing to have access to
quality medical equipment from accredited suppliers they can trust.
We are pleased to report that implementation of
the program is going very smoothly, said CMS Administrator Donald
Berwick, M.D. We continue to deploy a wide array of resources across
all of the competitive bidding areas to address any concerns that may
These resources include local State Health
Insurance and Assistance Program (SHIP) offices, specially trained
customer service representatives at 1-800-MEDICARE, and caseworkers in
Medicares regional offices, who all stand ready to assist beneficiaries
who may have questions about the program.
In addition, there is a complaint and inquiry
process for beneficiaries, caregivers, doctors, referral agents and
suppliers to use for reporting concerns about a contract supplier or
other competitive bidding implementation issues. This process is
designed to ensure that all complaints are correctly routed,
investigated, resolved, tracked and reported.
Further, there is a Competitive Acquisition
Ombudsman who will respond to complaints and inquiries from suppliers
and others about the application of the program and issue an annual
Report to Congress.
Since the beginning of the program, CMS says it has
received only a handful of beneficiary complaints and has acted quickly
to resolve each one. While 1-800 MEDICARE has received a number of
inquiries about the program, the majority of such inquiries are on
routine matters, such as selecting a supplier.
CMS continues to monitor the implementation of the
program very carefully said Dr. Berwick. We urge all stakeholders to
bring any issues to our attention in order for our caseworkers to
resolve them as quickly as possible.
Program monitoring includes the use of beneficiary
surveys, active claims surveillance and analysis, contract supplier
reporting, and tracking and analysis of complaints and inquiries in the
nine initial areas, which include Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland,
Dallas, Kansas City, Miami, Orlando, Pittsburgh and Riverside.
CMS has taken administrative actions against a
small number of contract suppliers to help bring them back into
compliance with Medicares rules.
Only the following categories of items are included in
the first phase of this program:
Oxygen, Oxygen Equipment, and Supplies
Standard Power Wheelchairs, Scooters, and Related
Complex Rehabilitative Power Wheelchairs and Related
Accessories (Group 2 only)
Mail-Order Diabetic Supplies
Enteral Nutrients, Equipment and Supplies
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Devices,
Respiratory Assist Devices (RADs), and Related Supplies and Accessories
Hospital Beds and Related Accessories
Walkers and Related Accessories
Support Surfaces (Group 2 mattresses and overlays in
Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL only)
The Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program was
established by the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and
Modernization Act of 2003, and the program was briefly implemented in
2008 in 10 areas before it was temporarily delayed.
The Medicare Improvements for Patients and
Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA), enacted on July 15, 2008, terminated the
supplier contracts in effect at the time, temporarily delayed the
program, and made certain limited changes to the program. MIPPA also
required CMS to conduct the competition again for Round One in 2009, and
delayed competition for Round Two in 70 additional metropolitan
statistical areas (MSAs) until 2011 and in additional areas of the
country until after 2011.
The Affordable Care Act of 2010 expands the number
of Round Two MSAs from 70 to 91 areas.
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