HME industry attracts spotlight
WASHINGTON - The hearing on national competitive bidding held by Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., inspired a blitz of media attention last week.
* On Wednesday, May 7, The Dallas Morning News published a story under the headline "Medicare bid process drawing flak." The story quotes Laurence Wilson of CMS, Evelyn Herndon of Ellis County Home Medical Equipment, John Skoro of XMED Oxygen and Medical Equipment, Ray Ferri of Metroplex Medical Services and Tyler Wilson of AAHomecare.
* On Tuesday, May 6, The Wall Street Journal published a story under the headline "Lawmakers question Medicare bidding plan." The story starts off: "Members of Congress are expressing concern and scheduling hearings about a Medicare plan to use competitive bidding for products such as wheelchairs and walkers, in a sign that lobbying my medical-equipment companies is gaining traction." The story quotes Stark as saying he'd like national competitive bidding "scrapped." It also quotes AAHomecare's Wilson.
* Also on Tuesday, May 6, Congress Daily published a story under the headline "CMS chief defends new competitive bidding program." The story says CMS has no plans to back off from competitive bidding, despite a groundswell of concern from members of Congress. The story quotes CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems as saying, "I think the industry's done good job of putting up a smoke screen on this." It also quotes Stark and Frederick Graefe, an Invacare lobbyist.
* On Monday, May 5, Congressional Quarterly published a story under the headline "Critics of DME competitive bidding program gear up for Tuesday hearing." The story quotes Stark and Wayne Stanfield of the National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers (NAIMES), and mentions concerns from the Quality Diabetes Care Coalition, AAHomecare and Invacare. It also quotes Weems as saying that complaints about flaws in the bidding process are unfounded.
* During the weekend of May 2-4, Media General publications published stories in Virginia, North Carolina and Florida newspapers that quoted David Simmons of Majors Medical Supply, Wayne Sale of Health First, Bill Griffin of Griffin Home Health Care, Beth Bowen of NCAMES and VADMEC, and Michael Reinemer of AAHomecare.
* On Friday, May 2, the Scranton Times-Tribune, published a story under the headline "Medical equipment sellers to lobby Congress." The story quotes John Shirvinsky of PAMS, Robert Brown of Andrew Brown's Home Care and CMS's Wilson.