Chaos continues


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National competitive bidding continues to steal headlines this week. Some of the latest news:

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CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems on April 1 responded to Rep. Jason Altmire’s “dear colleague” letter. I doubt Weems’ letter

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will satisfy Altmire and his 122 colleagues. Weems continues to stick very close to the party line. For example: “I am pleased to report that small providers make up a significant number (64 percent) of the suppliers being offered contracts under Round 1 of the program. This is more than double the target goal for small supplier participation in the program.”

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Midnight Run the movie Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services April 1, asking Secretary Michael Leavitt to postpone competitive bidding.

AAHomecare on March 31 detailed plans to examine the supplier selection process for Round 1. It has retained Sidley Austin, a Washington, D.C., law firm, to review the cases of 150 providers who say they have been unfairly and incorrectly shut out of the program.

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I know it’s hard to think about anything else besides competitive bidding, but I thought this story The Affair of the Necklace video published in yesterday’s New York Times was interesting. It’s about a portable device that delivers electrical shocks meant to revive victims of sudden heart seizures (think defibrillators). They’re commonly used by ambulance crews, but recently, manufacturers like Philips Medical have been marketing them to “health-conscious consumers as the latest safety feature for their homes.” Sounds like a good lead for HME providers seeking to add another cash item to their shelves, right? Not so fast. A study has found that patients in homes equipped with the devices died at the same rate as those without it.