New DHHS chief weighs in on DME issues

Sunday, January 30, 2005

January 31, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY - Former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, who the Senate confirmed last week as the new secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, believes that competitive bidding for DME will save the government money. He also believes that small providers should be able to compete in the program.
As part of his confirmation hearings, Leavitt answered several questions related specifically to durable medical equipment.  Sen. Charles Grassley, R, Iowa, poised questions regarding competitive bidding and ensuring beneficiary access to power wheelchairs.
Regarding power wheelchairs, Leavitt responded in part: “It will be my goal as Secretary to ensure that there is a balance between getting power
wheelchairs to those who need them and protecting against fraud, waste, and abuse. CMS is currently focusing on using a set of clinical and functional data that is evidence-based to better predict who would benefit from a power wheelchair or scooter.”
Regarding competitive bidding, Leavitt responded: “I believe that competitive bidding will reduce beneficiary and Medicare program costs for
DME while protecting beneficiary access to quality DME, and that it is important to ensure that small suppliers in rural areas are protected and able to compete in the program.”