Center for Medicare Advocacy in Congress, Voicing Concerns on Behalf of Beneficiaries

On May 9, 2012, the Center for Medicare Advocacy (the Center) testified before the Subcommittee on Health, Committee on Ways and Means, U. S. Congress.  The Subcommittee hearing was called by its Chair, Wally Herger (R-CA), to explore the implementation of the Congressionally-mandated Durable Medical Equipment Prosthetics Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS) competitive bidding program. Alfred J. Chiplin, Jr., Senior Policy Attorney at the Center, was an invited witness.  He was asked to represent the perspective and experience of beneficiaries and their families who rely on Medicare for necessary DMEPOS supplies and equipment.

Highlights of Attorney Chiplin’s Testimony:

  • Congress’ continued focus on the (DMEPOS) competitive bidding program is important. The program is scheduled to be expanded to ninety-one (91) new Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) in 2013.
  • The Center is pleased that the April 2012 assessment of the DMEPOS competitive bidding program by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) projects savings to the Medicare Part B Trust Fund of $25.7 billion between 2013 and 2022 and a reduction in beneficiary out-of-pocket coinsurance amount of $17.1 billion during this same period.[1]
  • The Center hopes the beneficiary cost-savings will increase over time and that access to DMEPOS is not impacted by decreasing costs.
  • The Center urges Congress and the Medicare agency to assure that providers carry a range of products within product categories and that beneficiaries are not inappropriately required to change brands or types of DMEPOS and supplies in order to stay within supplier cost parameters dictated by the competitive bidding process in local markets.
  • The Center remains concerned about the scope and quality of DMEPOS available to Medicare beneficiaries, hoping it is not diminished as suppliers jockey to do business in the competitive bidding environment.
  • The Medicare agency should be required to step up its efforts to educate beneficiaries about the DMEPOS competitive bidding program, including the development of a website specifically for Medicare beneficiaries.
  • The Center is hopeful that if properly implemented, including the development and expansion of appropriate beneficiary education and safeguards, the DMEPOS competitive bidding program can be a positive vehicle for ensuring that beneficiaries get the supplies they need while holding down costs to taxpayers.

For attorney Chiplin’s complete testimony, including further concerns and recommendations, please visit:

http://waysandmeans.house.gov/UploadedFiles/Chiplin_Testimony_Final_5-9-12.pdf.

The testimony of all of the witnesses can be viewed at: http://waysandmeans.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=293769.