Midnight rendezvouses, the status quo and quality vs. cost


Another newspaper has joined the Sun Sentinel in publishing pro-competitive bidding articles. The Kansas City Star published an editorial today with this headline: Don't pass up Medicare bids.

While not as incendiary as the Sun Sentinel piece (which envisions CMS and industry stakeholders picking fee schedule amounts out of a hat in the middle of the night; which overstates the role of scheming drug dealers in HME fraud; and which mocks Rep. Meek for supporting H.R. 3790, when the majority of his peers also support the bill), the Star piece is sure to ruffle more than a few feathers in the industry and rightly so. Here's why:

  • The article states that AAHomecare and others are lobbying Congress to support "the costly status quo." Last I knew, H.R. 3790, the industry's bill to repeal competitive bidding was chock full of pay-fors. That's hardly the status quo.
  • It states that competitive bidding may cause "some" small businesses to reduce staff and possibly close. Let me qualify that for the Star: The VGM Group estimates that 100,000 employees will lose jobs and 39% of providers will close their doors.
  • It states that "quality is as important as cost" and that the financial documentation requirements that providers must meet to participate in the program will ensure quality. Those requirements may—MAY— ensure quality in that a provider will be able to make do with 32% less reimbursement, but they don't ensure quality in that the provider will provide the products and services that beneficiaries are used to and deserve.

The message from both newspapers—large newspapers with large readerships, I'd like to add—is loud and clear: Competitive bidding will save money—a reported $17 billion over 10 years—and that's all anyone needs to know.

Unfortunately, as long as people have blinders with dollar signs (and in this new day and age, I don't see them taking those off anytime soon) and as long as the public is unfamiliar with the value and cost effectiveness of HME, that's never going to change.

Liz Beaulieu