Saturday, August 31, 2002

Comp. bidding can work, says Tom Scully
WASHINGTON — The House Ways and Means Committee last month released a letter from CMS Administrator Tom Scully expressing the administration's support for competitive bidding in procurement of durable medical equipment in the Medicare program.

Scully's letter was meant in part to clear any misunderstandings that he does not support that provision of the House's Medicare Modernization and Prescription Drug Act. A Ways and Means background paper notes that Medicare pays 20% more than the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program for hospital beds, 12% more for walkers, and 22% more for IV poles. As Congress struggles to contain Medicare costs, the GOP bill proposes to use competitive bidding to acquire such items in the hope it will bring down Medicare expenses.

In his letter, Scully writes his mandate as CMS Administrator "includes ensuring Medicare's payment levels are appropriate so that taxpayer dollars are not wasted and that Medicare beneficiaries are protected from unnecessarily high copayments." Scully adds, "One area where we have focused on ensuring appropriate payments is in spending for Part B services such as durable medical equipment and supplies." Scully also notes, "Our demonstration programs in Florida and Texas have worked well, and in many product areas we are convinced that competitive bidding can work." HME