Special to HME News

Sunday, October 25, 2009

WASHINGTON - Congressman Kendrick Meek's bill to eliminate the misguided "competitive" bidding program, H.R. 3790, now has at least 34 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.

These co-sponsors reflect a strong bipartisan cross-section of Congress. That means members of Congress--Republicans and Democrats--are willing to take the time to listen and recognize how misdirected this bidding program is.

If allowed to continue, the bidding program will snuff out thousands of small businesses that provide quality equipment and services. The vulnerable senior population who needs and deserves access to proper medical equipment and care will also suffer under this program.

That's why the Meek bill is supported by consumer groups, including the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, the United Spinal Association, and the National Emphysema and COPD Association.

As the HME industry well knows, the 2008 implementation of the bid program was plagued with serious problems, including disruption to patient services; greater costs to Medicare due to longer hospital stays; bids going to non-local, inexperienced or unlicensed providers; and desperation bidding.

H.R. 3790 is a fiscally responsible bill that will allow thousands of home medical providers to keep their doors open to serve the millions of Americans who require cost-effective, home-based care. And the bill will allow patients to continue to receive services from the providers of their choice.

But--this is a bill that needs a lot of support very quickly to get traction in Washington, D.C.

All HME providers and stakeholders should call their representatives in the House to urge them to co-sponsor the bill or thank them if they already have co-sponsored it. A list of cosponsors is at www.aahomecare.org.

The fight against this ill-conceived program will be one of the defining moments for the home medical equipment and service community. Join in. We need all hands on deck.

Tyler Wilson is president and CEO of AAHomecare.