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Medicare Reform: The Fight to Repeal Homecare Bidding

Woman in a wheelchair looking up at uniformed caregiverIn an effort to cut federal spending, lawmakers have made a number of Medicare reforms over the years, but none quite as controversial as President Obama’s recent “competitive bidding” program. The program, implemented in January 2011, is intended to cut Medicare costs by targeting home medical equipment and services; however critics insist the harmful effects are hardly worth the minimal savings.

The American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare), along with several other organizations and patient advocacy groups, strongly opposes competitive bidding. AAHomecare pleaded with Obama to repeal the program in a letter which stated, “The bid program encourages ‘suicide bidding’ by using economic coercion to force providers to submit unsustainable bids necessary to win a contract in hopes of staying in business in the short term.” More than 244 experts and activists agree, adding that the bidding program severely and arbitrarily restricts the number of companies that are allowed to provide commonly used medical equipment and services. Since the program’s inception, homecare providers – along with patients and clinicians – have reported:

  • Difficulty finding a local equipment or service provider
  • Unnecessarily long hospital stays due to problems arranging home-based care
  • Confusing or inaccurate information provided by Medicare
  • Delays in obtaining medically required services and equipment
  • Drastically fewer choices for quality services and equipment

As our country’s population ages, more people will have greater need for homecare services. Although the government claims the bidding program is advantageous because it introduces competition and will cut costs in the long run, they fail to recognize its many flaws. Auction experts pointed out that the system does not bind bidding companies to honor their bids, undermining the credibility of the process and encouraging “low ball” bids that are unsustainable.

An independent study focusing on the patient impact of the bidding program, published by Dobsom DaVanzo & Associates, predicts numerous negative consequences including:

  • Fewer choices for elderly homecare
  • Reduced access to care
  • Lower quality products for Medicare beneficiaries
  • Fewer resources to set up/adjust medical equipment

Unless Obama repeals the program, homecare agencies and equipment providers will continue to suffer. In the meantime, there are ways to work with the system. ClearCare’s innovate care management software is an easy-to-use system that empowers home health agencies with high efficiency and productivity. ClearCare offers a complete line of features for home care organizations that not only provide foolproof scheduling for happier clients, but the Medicare-compliant software also speeds up claims.

ClearCare’s point-of-care, scheduling, billing, paperless records, payroll functions, and other features are all designed for optimum productivity and improved cash flow. You can easily keep track of your employees’ activities and patient tasks for seamless Medicare claims. While the government is determined to make business difficult for homecare agencies, ClearCare works diligently to make it easy and simple – for both clients and providers.

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Derek Jones

Derek enjoys spending time with family running road races, has completed 6-half marathons, mountain biking, and anything to do with baseball or the outdoors.

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