Beneficiaries in Round 2 bid area get wakeup call

Thursday, February 9, 2012

PHILADELPHIA - Medicare beneficiaries in Philadelphia, a Round 2 competitive bidding area, have no idea what's coming their way, industry stakeholders say.

As part of a Town Hall Teleconference hosted by People for Quality Care (PFQC) last week, The VGM Group's John Gallagher polled listeners and found that 100% did not know about competitive bidding and 95% did not believe the government should choose their healthcare provider. That's not a surprise to Kelly Turner, executive director of the PFQC.

"Most people don't learn about competitive bidding until their provider is taken away," she said.

The number of listeners who participated in the teleconference: 6,627.

Gallagher, vice president of government relations for VGM, told listeners that, above and beyond access issues, competitive bidding would cost the Philadelphia area 2,130 jobs.

In addition to Gallagher and Turner, listeners heard from Ann Eubank, director of User's First; and Kelly Booth, the author of a blog called "Trials and Tribulations of a Type 1 Diabetic."

Eubank told listeners that if their providers do not win bids, they will have to go to other providers to get products and services. And providers that do win bids, faced with lower reimbursements, may not be able to provide the equipment and services they're used to, she said. 

"Those choices will disappear," Eubank said.

Booth, who lives outside Pittsburgh, a Round 1 bid area, said she's heard that beneficiaries in that area are having trouble getting quality test strips and are having to wait to receive supplies.

Listeners were able to hit buttons on their phones to dial their senators and representatives to share their concerns with competitive bidding and to support a bill to repeal the program and support the market-pricing program.

"Medicare says they don't hear from you," Eubank said. "Your voices can make a difference."



Until the defacto denial of access creates a political consequence, this will not stop.

Frank, if you follow the Nichole Medical case before The Third Circuit Court in Philadelphia in the documents filed with the court it has as one of the Primary arguments for protection from the Courts for Providers is this very issue of availability!! This case covers an enormous area and addresses a lot of issues. The outcome of this case will have a blanket affect over every health care Provider within medicare's jurisdiction not just HME. That is what makes it a very important case. As I said before "we have the High Court's ear and they want to hear what we have to say so we need to make the best of it!"

Availability has more to do with competitive bidding, part of the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act than anything else. The courts will not protect us from competitive bidding. The only thing that will save us is politicians deciding that the best way they can serve their selfish interests is to stop it. Nothing else is going to help.

Jobs will be lost, access reduced, and businesses closed coming to your town. All brought to you by the prescription drug bill that was not paid for. The industry should do what the docs do, and that is quit taking Medicare. That is the only way to get beneficiaries to take a stand.