Senate leaders joined their House counterparts in an effort to delay a controversial Medicare program that would move the agency away from paying flat fees for wheelchairs, home oxygen, diabetic-testing equipment and other types of medical hardware and move toward competitively bid dollar amounts.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced legislation that would effectively scrap the first round of bidding and freeze the program for up to two years while concerns over quality and fairness are examined. Under current law, the first round of bidding begins July 1. At that time, the CMS will pay contracted suppliers a certain dollar amount for various durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and suppliescommonly referred to as DMEPOS. A second round of bidding, set to begin next year, would also be delayed.
The competitive bidding program for (DME) should stay on hold until its certain that seniors will get the products they need in a way that works for them, Baucus said in a written statement.
Last week, Reps. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the chairman and senior Republican on the House Ways and Means health subcommittee respectively, also introduced legislation to delay the program. -- by Matthew DoBias
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