Waxman Says Controversial Medicare Bidding Program For Medical Equipment Should Proceed
CQ HealthBeat: "House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry A. Waxman said Wednesday that a controversial Medicare bidding program that would cut the costs of medical equipment such as wheelchairs and oxygen supplies should go forward under tight scrutiny. Waxman said ... he takes seriously the concerns of suppliers and some patients' groups that service and access to supplies could be undermined by the money-saving program, but said there is no evidence so far of that happening based on limited early tests of the approach." Waxman, D-Calif., questioned whether there was any evidence to support the fears and noted that groups that help beneficiaries were generally supportive.
"Waxman's support for the program, which is scheduled to get under way Jan. 1 in nine markets in the United States, signals that House Democratic leaders may not stand in its way. However, legislation to block the program (HR 3790) has at least 255 cosponsors, well over a majority of the House. And as Waxman noted in the hearing, some 10 million Medicare beneficiaries depend on 'durable medical equipment' such as the products involved in the bidding program. If they become alarmed about the program, lawmakers could face great pressure about it. Much will depend on how seniors react in coming weeks" (Reichard, 9/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.