Bush supports Senate Medicare reform package

Sunday, June 22, 2003

June 23, 2003

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration released a statement last week supporting passage of the Senate Medicare reform bill that includes a 7-year CPI freeze for DME. The Senate bill also calls for DME providers to become accredited by an independent accreditation organization.

The administration’s support for the Senate bill is no great surprise. It’s a bipartisan effort and has a much better chance of passing, say industry watchers, than the House bill, which is less bipartisan.

“If it becomes a partisan issue, it goes nowhere,” said John Gallagher, VGM’s vp of government affairs.

Passing a Medicare reform billing - even one with a less generous drug benefit than President Bush wanted - would be a huge victory for the administration and provide plenty of momentum going into the 2004 election.

The House bill includes competitive bidding for DME; the Senate bill does not. But since the Senate has introduced its package first - a rarity on Capitol Hill - Washington insiders say the argument against competitive bidding has been strengthened.