Medicare will implement “competitive bidding” in the CSRA by 2013. Currently companies in the CSRA, and those outside of our area, are completing bid proposals to compete for contracts to provide your home medical services.
While Medicare desires to save money by reducing the number of providers and payments rates, Medicare patients may experience changes in the levels of service they have grown accustomed to receiving to remain safe and independent in their homes.
Current data shows a dramatic drop in the use of oxygen, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, hospital beds, wheelchairs and other home medical items in areas where competitive bidding already has been implemented. It is expected that more emergency room visits, hospitalizations and nursing home admissions will result from a reduction in providers of these services to seniors.
For now, you, the physician, the social worker or other referral sources choose local companies to provide your services. But if contracts are awarded as a result of competitive bidding, only companies that receive contracts will be allowed to provide services to you. You may have to change your service provider to a company that is unfamiliar with your current medical conditions.
Home medical equipment and services are one of the most cost-effective alternatives to expensive institutional care, and represent our best solution for controlling spending growth in Medicare. Your health is not a commodity that should be auctioned off to the lowest bidder!
Congress can and should stop the Medicare competitive bidding program for home medical equipment and services, and instead concentrate on eliminating wasteful government spending – not saddling our seniors with cut-rate medical care! We never needed Washington to tell us how to care for our seniors, and we don’t now! Tell Congress to stop these attempts to cut back on senior home care.
Hank Wickware, Tommy Battle, David Petsch, Eric Holgate, Barry Bryant
(The writers are Augusta-area home medical service providers.)