Competitive bidding: Petition aims for 'real change'

Friday, February 24, 2012

SCARBOROUGH, Maine - Why didn't someone think of this sooner? A petition to stop competitive bidding has picked up nearly 8,000 signatures in two weeks.

National Sleep Therapy (NST) launched the petition on to get beneficiaries and caregivers to speak up about the dreaded program.

"I've always thought real change needs to happen at the patient/voter/constituent level," said Peter Falkson, CEO and cofounder of NST. "If we could get all the patients involved--the people that actually get the care and benefit from it--they have a much bigger, more important voice than we do as owners of businesses."

That voice has been missing so far, say providers.

In fact, CMS has said many times that it has received only a handful of complaints from beneficiaries, a sign, the agency says, that the program is working.

"If the beneficiaries aren't speaking out, the assumption is, they are doing OK, they are getting their oxygen, they are getting their wheelchair," said Falkson.

Falkson can't take all the credit for the petition, he says. 

"My 10-year-old daughter was part of class that did a project (that went viral)," he said. "I'd never even heard of"

Faulkson also credits NEMED with helping to re-tool the petition to give it a broader message--and reach a broader audience. Originally, it targeted only its CPAP patients. Now the hope is that other HME providers will ask their own patients to sign the petition and pass it along. 

Provider Gary Sheehan reached out to about 500 patients who subscribe to the company's patient newsletter. 

"It's not a heavy lift to create and blast it out," said Sheehan, president/CEO of Sandwich, Mass.-based Cape Medical Supply. "We figured why not try and supplement (existing efforts) and get more people aware of the issue."

Still, Sheehan acknowledges it's tough to get beneficiaries engaged in industry efforts.

"The beneficiaries don't really care until you tell them you can't provide to them anymore," he said. "Even at that point, it's the vocal minority that would get up and say anything at all."

The petition has been picked up by state and national industry associations, including AAHomecare, NAIMES and AMEPA, and member groups like The MED Group and The VGM Group.

To view the petition, click here.



Why is The Scooter Store never discussed regarding this topic? Real Change might interest those praying for it and hoping it will save their business. BUT, the scooter store doesn&#39;t just hope for competitive bidding, they don&#39;t just pray for it, they are lobbying for it. That&#39;s right, they have lobbyist hired to help influence politicians how good competitive bidding will be for medicare. What they are really lobbying for is assistance with doing what the scooter store can&#39;t do, put their competition out of business themselves. The scooter store is borrowing money, cutting employee benefits, laying off employees just trying to survive because their competitors are starting to beat them. How are they doing it? Through personal relationships and treating not only the customer right but also the prescribing physicians. <br />
Competitive bidding will ultimately hurt patients in the power mobility sector if they are ever serviced by the scooter store. Why is it that the HME news never writes poorly about the scooter store? Perhaps another lobbyist? Why do they never write about how physicians and their office staff feel about working with the scooter store? Is one advertiser worth ignoring the truth or writing an article worth reading?

One petition to influence advertisers to pull ads from Limbaugh after his idiotic remarks garnered over 350000 signatures in about 48 hrs. Too bad we can&#39;t get Medicare beneficiaries to react similarly. We just need to find something to encourage a response and I hope it is not at the expense of beneficiaries&#39; health. This is a great venue by the way. Thanks.

Why didn&#39;t someone think of this sooner? How about that we did back in 2010 prior to the implementation of round 1? A group of us small DME providers in the Dallas/Fort Worth MSA started a petition online, and proceeded to contact other providers in the other MSAs for support. We also contacted HME news, MESA and VGM for their support, and did not receive any. This idea of a petition has been thought of, and impelmented, yet to no avail. This affirmed to us, as small DME providers, that our voices, our opinions and our patients do not matter. Now we are coming up on Round 2 with even greater consequences to small business owners and patients. I was hopeful that now competitve bidding is expanding, there may be a larger driving force to stop this before it is too late, but now, unfortunately I don&#39;t believe that will happen. Thank you to all who support competitive bidding for making sure that the unemployement rates stay high, that families continue to struggle to support themselves with impending lay offs, that communities suffer and most importantly, that patients do not recieve the equipment they need to have a better quality of life.