Coalition to Medicare: Exempt rehab from competitive bidding

Sunday, March 14, 2004

March 15, 2004

WASHINGTON -   The products and services provided by high-tech rehab and assistive technology suppliers should be exempted from any form of Medicare competitive bidding, according to a position paper released last week by the National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology.
NCART feels that people with disabilities need explicit protection from the negative impact competitive bidding would have on their access to appropriate high-tech rehab and assistive technology, appropriate evaluation, fitting, follow- up and service.  Therefore, NCART stated in its position paper, Congress should amend the Medicare Modernization and Prescription Drug Act of 2003 to exempt high-tech  rehab and assistive technology products and services from any form of competitive  bidding.  
MMA calls for a gradual roll out of competitive bidding for DME beginning in 2007.
NCART formed in February after at least seven AAHomecare rehab members left to form the new membership organization focused on the needs of high-end rehab providers. NCART's board of directors includes officials from many of the top rehab companies, including Sunrise Medical, National Seating and Mobility, Invacare and Pride Mobility. Sharon Hildebrandt, former executive director of RATC, also left AAHomecare to head the new group.
The Medicare Modernization and Prescription  Drug Act of 2003 gives Medicare the authority to exempt certain products  from competitive bidding when “…the savings would be inadequate to justify the  administrative costs or when competitive bidding may have an adverse impact on  the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries.”  This language serves to document  the intent of Congress that competitive bidding be used judiciously, according to NCART.
Competitive bidding will result in DME suppliers reducing services and selecting  products provided based on cost, not appropriateness.  A reduction in services or limitation of products based on price alone which would result from competitive  bidding, will have a severe negative impact on clinical outcomes associated with the  provision of high-tech rehab and assistive technology, according to NCART.