Medicare expands competitive bidding program

Published on February 2, 2013 at 4:58 AM · No Comments

The new prices will kick in July 1 and are expected to save on average 45 percent for products such as walkers, wheelchairs, oxygen equipment and other medical products. 

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Medicare Expands Competitive Bids For Medical Equipment; Big Savings Seen For Some Seniors
Savings are also coming for many patients who rent home oxygen gear, hospital beds, wheelchairs and other equipment. Medicare deputy administrator Jonathan Blum said Wednesday its due to competitive bidding making inroads against wasteful spending (1/30).

Reuters: U.S. Expects Big Medicare Savings From Competitive Bid Program
Medicare and its beneficiaries in 100 metropolitan areas will pay less for durable equipment beginning July 1. The new prices, set by competitive bidding, are expected to save 45 percent on average, on products including walkers, wheelchairs, oxygen equipment, hospital beds and prosthetics (Morgan, 1/30).

CQ Healthbeat: Medicare Patients In 91 Cities May Face Supplier Switch, But Will Save Big On Gear
Medicare beneficiaries in 91 cities will save an average of 45 percent a month on wheelchairs and other medical equipment starting this summer thanks to the expansion of a competitive bidding program, federal officials announced Wednesday. Beneficiaries will also save an average of 72 percent on diabetic testing supplies under a national mail-order program starting at the same time, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a news release (Reichard, 1/30).

In related news --

The Washington Post: Medicare To Adjust Payment For Dialysis Drugs After Overspending Millions
The Medicare system is recalculating how much it will reimburse hospitals and clinics for the drugs used to treat dialysis patients after federal auditors found recently that the program could save as much as $880 million annually. An analysis by The Washington Post in August showed that the government was overspending by hundreds of millions for just one group of those drugs (Whoriskey, 1/30).

Additional Medicare headlines --

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: A Wish List For Medicare
The three (former Medicare administrators) want to see a permanent fix for the payment formula for doctors. That formula, called the sustainable growth rate, or SGR, has threatened large payment cuts nearly every year since being implemented and Congress has repeatedly stepped in to stop it. And all said it's high time Congress confirms a CMS administrator (Carey, 1/30).

Kaiser Health News: Fed Economist Steps Into Dispute On Geographic Differences In Health Spending
An economist at the Federal Reserve has restoked the debate over the causes of regional differences in Medicare spending, and her analysis disputes some of the thinking behind a number of policy changes in the 2010 health law (Rau, 1/30).

The Medicare NewsGroup: Fact/Fiction: Medicare Beneficiaries Pay The Same Amount For Medicare, Regardless Of How Much Money They Have
Premiums for Medicare Medical Insurance (Part B) and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D) are already tied to beneficiaries' income levels. In a more indirect form, Medicare Hospital Insurance (Part A) is also tied to income. … Within the context of Medicare reform, some policymakers explain that what they are proposing as parts of proposals to either save the program money or as a deficit-reduction strategy is an expansion on means-testing for the program (Solana, 1/30).

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