ONE DAY TO GO - McKnight's Online Expo expert: You can 'max' out on Medicare

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Ask the payment expert
In an effort to lower the cost of durable medical equipment, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has introduced a competitive bidding program among supply companies. Officials hope it will reduce medical equipment costs to the agency, beneficiaries and facilities that pay Medicare costs by 26% - or up to $1 billion per year.

A session at the McKnight's Online Expo tomorrow will give providers even more direct ways to learn "real-world strategies" for dealing with Medicare to improve their bottom lines. The 3 p.m. (Eastern Time) session is free and will be led by expert Patricia Boyer.

All five sessions of the McKnight's Expo - taking place tomorrow and Thursday - are free and can be registered for at www.mcknights.com.

Under the new durable medical equipment program, CMS will award contracts to suppliers who can provide the lowest cost of goods or who can provide the biggest savings to Medicare beneficiaries.

While some lawmakers have worried aloud that smaller suppliers will not be able to compete for contracts effectively, acting CMS administrator Kerry Weems has said that 64% of those who have won contracts so far have been small suppliers.

The program is scheduled to take effect July 1. Contract winners will be announced in May.