Friday, June 27, 2008

New Medicare Competitive Bid Program Debuts July 1

A new Medicare initiative designed to save money and prevent fraud in payments for durable medical equipment starts July 1st in Pittsburgh and 9 other locations, where Medicare beneficiaries must begin to use approved suppliers.

Vendors in each area submitted competitive bids for ten items, such as wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds, oxygen equipment. Medicare Acting Administrator Kerry Weems says prices came in nationally at 26% less than scheduled fees, and since beneficiaries pay 20% of such costs, they will share in the savings. By the time the program is implemented nationally in two years, Weems says Medicare will save a billion dollars a year.

In addition to lower prices, approved vendors had to meet quality and financial standards. If a beneficiary has been getting supplies from a vendor not approved for the program, the company may in some cases be grandfathered in at the lower price.

For answers to any questions about Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE. A list of Medicare-contract suppliers is on the web: "Find Suppliers of Medical Equipment in your Area".

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