Competitive bidding: Senator picks up the fight

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

WASHINGTON – A member of the Senate Finance Committee called for adding an “any willing provider” provision to the national competitive bidding program this week.

The provision would allow all Medicare providers to continue providing equipment and services, as long as they accept the reimbursement rates set by winning bidders.

“This may better maintain the competitive nature of the industry as it is today and help postpone the closure of many domestic and often rural businesses nationwide,” stated Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in a July 13 dear colleague letter.

Providers should ask their senators to sign the letter, industry stakeholders say. Wyden will send it to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

In the letter, Wyden states that competitive bidding will “lead to increased government waste and further compromise patient access to critical homecare services.” He warns of “shortages of suppliers (increasing monopolies and fraud), closing of smaller community-based suppliers and reducing competition, which would ultimately lead to price increases.”

Portland, Ore.-based Care Medical and Rehabilitation Equipment worked with Wyden to craft the letter.