Bill delaying durable medical equipment competitive bidding process introduced in House

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U.S. representatives introduced legislation last week that would stall the Medicare competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment (DME) providers for 18 months.

Delaying the program would cost roughly $3.1 billion over the next five years, according to the bill's chief sponsor, Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA). To offset this cost, DME suppliers have agreed to a 9.5% payment cut for covered items over the course of the delay, according to news reports. Suppliers have said that they are willing to make this sacrifice in order to secure a fairer DME bidding system. Many smaller providers believe that the bidding system will put them at a competitive disadvantage and potentially put them out of business.

Under the legislation, the bidding program in the first 10 metropolitan statistical areas would not take effect until at least late 2009. The second phase, covering another 70 more areas, would not occur until some time in 2011. Bill co-sponsors are Reps. Camp (R-MI), Rangel (D-NY), Boehner (R-OH), Dingell (D-MI) and Pallone (D-NJ).

To see the bill, go to http://www.house.gov/stark/news.