Sen. Grassley stands up for HME issues

Monday, February 28, 2005

WASHINGTON - Former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, who the Senate confirmed in January 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 bidding program.

Leavitt replaces outgoing Secretary Tommy Thompson.

As part of his confirmation hearings, Sen. Charles Grassley, R, Iowa, asked Leavitt questions regarding competitive bidding and ensuring beneficiary access to power wheelchairs.

“It’s great at [Sen. Grassley] is actively engaged on our issues,” said Cara Bachenheimer, Invacare’s vice president of government relations.

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.”