House committees sign off on competitive bidding

Sunday, June 22, 2003

June 23, 2003

WASHINGTON - The Ways and Means Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee each passed Medicare reform legislation last week that calls for competitive bidding to be rolled out nationwide.

Ways and Means passed its Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003 by a vote of 25-15. Energy and Commerce passed its version, also known as the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003, by a margin of 29-20. Both bills take a nearly identical stance on competitive bidding, calling for a phased-in program in 2005 and 2006 (see details in last week’s HME NewsWire).

The full House is expected to begin deliberations on Medicare reform next week. The full Senate began deliberations on its version of Medicare reform last week. The Senate bill calls for a 7-year CPI freeze and mandatory accreditation for HME suppliers.

AAHomecare has stated its support for the Senate bill. So has President Bush. (See article below.)

Because the focus of each chamber’s Medicare reform legislation is a prescription drug benefit, neither the House nor Senate is likely to spend much time debating the merits of durable medical equipment proposals on the floor.

“My guess is that none of the senators will bring anything up,” said one Washington insider. “If [former Sen Max] Cleland [D-Ga.] were [still in the Senate], he would. There’s a small chance that someone like Mary Landrieu [D-La.] will.”