KHS was well represented at a meeting nearly a year in the works, when members of the Wisconsin Association of Medical Equipment Services (WAMES) met with Rep. Paul Ryan (WI-1st District) and discussed the problems that Medicare beneficiaries are having with the effects of the recently implemented Competitive Bidding program on their continuum of care. The meeting was held Tuesday August 27, 2013 at Rep. Ryan’s Kenosha office.
With documented complaints from over 1450 Medicare beneficiaries from around the country, we were able to impress on the congressman the negative impact of the program. In contrast, Medicare administrators claim to have only received 31 complaints this year. The program will likely cost beneficiaries more in the long run as they find themselves paying out of pocket for benefits they have paid into all their working lives.
In addition to being bad for beneficiaries and medical equipment providers, the program administrators failed to adequately screen the medical equipment companies who were winning bidders and now the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) in initiating an investigation of the controversial program. It was disclosed that the agency responsible awarded contracts in bidding areas nationwide to suppliers that lacked proper licensure and accreditation, as required by the program guidelines and individual state laws.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) Administrator, the agency’s top official, admitted to the misconduct, yet failed to address how the abuses occurred or offer any plan for corrective action.
On June 12, 2013, House members initiated a letter signed by 227 Members of Congress (including Rep. Ryan) – a full majority in the U.S. House of Representative, including 82 Democrats and 145 Republicans – which outlined critical flaws and abuses in the program, and requested that CMS delay further implementation until such issues are fully address and fixed.
KHS continues to fight on because the Competitive Bidding program has reduced the number of providers able to provide certain equipment and given contracts to many companies not even based in Wisconsin. We believe people from Wisconsin should be able to take care of people from Wisconsin.
If you or any Medicare beneficiary you know is having problems getting durable medical equipment, please have them call the complaint hotline staffed by People for Quality Care at 1-800-404-8702, and follow our lead in contacting your elected representatives!