Industry tries new approach in fight against bid program

Thursday, August 4, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  The fight against competitive bidding will take a different tack in August: robocalls.

The VGM Group's People for Quality Care (PFQC) has joined forces with the Midwest Association of Medical Equipment Services (MAMES) to reach out to residents age 65 and older in Kansas City, a Round 1 bid area, through two automated phone calls this month. On Aug. 12, those residents will receive a call alerting them to a "town meeting," and on Aug. 16, they will receive a call connecting them to the meeting.

"I'm hoping that by having people who are really experiencing the negative effect, it will be enough to draw people to want to hear more," said Kelly Turner, executive director for PFQC.

The plan is for the Robo Teleconference Town Meeting to offer listeners information about competitive bidding with real-life examples to illustrate problems with the program. 

Listeners will be encouraged to contact their congressional representative about H.R. 1041, a bill to repeal competitive bidding, and their senator about working on a companion bill. 

"We've been hearing over and over from our members of Congress that they aren't hearing from the beneficiaries," said MAMES Executive Director Rose Schafhauser. "So this is just another example of out-of-the-box thinking how do we get the beneficiaries involved?"

Providers are informing their patients about competitive bidding, but efforts like these reach out to even more people, Schafhauser and Turner said. 

"They're baby boomers and older they've worked hard all their lives, they've paid into Medicare and they like having their own choice," said Turner. "They speak out. We're hoping that they will make that effort to call."