Monday, March 31, 2003

NCB is not going away, count on it

Q: While it appears that the national competitive bidding issue is on the back burner for now, can we assume that it will just go away?

A: Absolutely not. Granted, the political landscape has changed. Sen. Bill Frist, Senate majority leader, and President Bush are interested in Medicare reform that includes more private sector involvement. Bob Graham is running for president and a number of former supporters have backed away from NCB, but the HME industry must be pro-active on this issue that affects service to Medicare beneficiaries and the future of many small businesses. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is determined to implement NCB, so we must keep up the fight. Providers should be speaking to service clubs and AARP chapters to help rally the grass-roots beneficiaries to contact their congressional representatives and tell them “NCB is bad public policy.” This is especially important now that one HME network has broken ranks and is on Capitol Hill telling Congress and CMS that NCB for DME would result in “significant” savings for the Medicare program. We must speak with one voice and remember what John Paul Jones said: I have not yet begun to fight!

John Gallagher is the VGM Group’s vp of government affairs. Reach him at 319-235-7100.