Beneficiary on bid program: ‘This is a terrible situation’

Monday, August 26, 2013

PHILADELPHIA – Competitive bidding is driving local suppliers out of the market, leaving beneficiaries who use DME with few close-to-home options for services such as wheelchair fitting and training, industry stakeholders and Medicare beneficiaries said during a press conference Aug. 23. “Eighty-two percent of Philadelphia-area providers (within 50 miles of the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington bidding area) have been eliminated in favor of providers from as far away as Texas and California,” said John Shirvinsky, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Medical Suppliers (PAMS). Before the bidding program began, there were 185 wheelchair providers in a 50-mile radius of Philadelphia; now there are seven, stakeholders said. The decline in options could force people into more expensive care options, they said. “This is a terrible situation for seniors and the disabled,” disability-rights activist and wheelchair user Alan Holdsworth said. “Buying and repairing durable medical equipment like wheelchairs is a local activity. People, especially people with disabilities and the elderly, look to local providers to take care of their equipment needs.”