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Legislative AlertsLambertís Health Care is actively involved in shaping the health care policies that impact you. However, you can help, too! When there is an issue that affects homecare patients, Lambertís will update the Current Issues section below. You can click on the link to learn more about the specifics of the legislation and how it could affect you.
The most important thing that you can do to protect your health care benefits is to contact your elected officials and let them know how the issue will impact you. As a member of his or her district, your opinion matters greatly. Remember, they are here to serve and protect you. By letting your representatives know how issues affect you, you are helping shape the decision that he/she makes on your behalf.
Periodically, the staff at Lambertís will post information on this site regarding a health care issue. This could be a letter to inform all of Lambertís patients of an issue or even a petition that you can sign to protect your homecare benefits. The Call to Action section will detail how you can participate and be sure that your voice is heard.
Bureaucratic Government Program Jeopardizes Senior Access to Quality Care
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is implementing a program nationwide that will severely impact your Home Medical Equipment (HME) benefit in serious ways. We all would like to see smarter government spending, but this program, ironically titled "Competitive Bidding", deviated significantly from what Congress sought to achieve (market-driven prices and healthy competition from a vast network of HME companies). Instead, this program achieves none of those things due it its serious design flaws that actually artificially lower prices to unsustainable rates, increase expenditures in Part A of Medicare, and jeopardize seniors' access to quality care from their chosen home medical equipment company.
With this program, a small number of suppliers with the cheapest bids (and little regard to quality, service, experience, financial health, or presence in the community) win the exclusive ability to sell durable medical equipment to Medicare beneficiaries. Closer inspection to this program reveals a poor design with significant detrimental consequences; therefore patient advocacy groups, economists, auction experts, and homecare equipment companies have challenged CMS and Congress to repeal this particular program before irreversible harm occurs.
The current program is fraught with serious and consequential problems that will wreak havoc on elderly and disabled Americans and small businesses like Lambert's throughout our great country. The controversy over this program is growing, yet it is scheduled to impact all 4 major cities & surrounding towns in Tennessee in early 2013, affecting Lambert's patients living in Knoxville, Lenoir City, Maryville/Alcoa, Oak Ridge, Powell, Clinton, Loudon, Townsend, Corryton, and 17 other cities close by.
Key issues with this program design include: lack of long-term sustainability, lack of transparency, a flawed pricing rule with non-binding bids, endangerment of seniors, and creation of mass genocide in the Home Medical Equipment Industry by eliminating 90% of companies like Lambert's nationwide. A failed program of this magnitude will destroy the home medical equipment supplier network for years to come, with an estimated 200+ companies closing and direct job losses of over 2,100 in Tennessee alone.
How does this impact you? A study conducted by Dobson & DaVanzo revealed:
- -Diminished freedom of choice in your provider,
- -Limited options in types of equipment and brands available,
- -Access issues to quality equipment and services,
- -Delayed response time in receiving goods/services,
- -Increase in emergency room visits and delays with discharge,
- -Stifled technological innovation for equipment,
- -Disruption in long-term relationships with your provider & continuity of care issues
**Many private insurance companies follow Medicare guidelines, so it is important that you learn about this and how it could impact you even if you do not have Medicare.**
Patient advocacy groups stand united with economists and auction researchers against this ill-conceived program. It hurts people, it hurts small (and even large) business, and it will negatively affect the economy, with predictions of reduced investment of 12-15% annually ($3.1 billion between 2011 & 2020) in the homecare equipment industry.
244 of our country's most prestigious economists from Princeton, Harvard, Yale, UCLA, Stanford, and more have joined together in 2011 in protest of this program, citing that it is plagued with "bureaucratic inertia" and that CMS' failure to resolve the serious and consequential problems with this program are "especially distressing and unreasonable". In 2010, 167 of these individuals wrote the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health about the four main design problems of this program, stating "implementation of the current design will result in a failed government program...The current auction program has flaws that need to be fixed before it can achieve the objectives of low cost and high quality". The Chairman promptly took this letter to CMS, asking how they would resolve it. CMS blindly dismissed these serious concerns and assert that CMS as a bureaucratic department knows more than these esteemed experts in auctions and economic impact. The New York Times Freakonomics blog by Ian Ayers and Peter Cramton criticized CMS, stating, "Any expert would be able to quickly identify the fatal flaws in the Medicare competitive bidding program. We suspect the problem is that CMS initially did not realize that auction expertise was required, and once they spent millions of dollars developing a failed approach, they stuck with it rather than admit mistakes were made".
Patient advocacy groups against this bid program include:
The ALS Association
American Association for People with Disabilities
Cerebral Palsy Association of Ohio
Muscular Dystrophy Association
National Association for Home Care & Hospice
National Council on Independent Living
National Emphysema/COPD Association
National Spinal Cord Injury Association
United Spinal Association
To learn more about this program and how it will affect Medicare beneficiaries, visit:
Understanding the Value of Homecare & Consequences of Competitive Bidding
Contact your elected representatives and tell them how:
- Important homecare is to your daily life,
- You want to be able to choose your home medical equipment company, not bureaucratic employees in Washington,
- A radical reduction in providers through the Competitive Bidding Program will be detrimental to you and could easily hinder your ability to live independently at home,
- Continued cuts to homecare benefits could limit the services and goods you depend on to stay out of the hospital and other institutional settings.
Contact Lambert's if you are willing to share your homecare story from the perspective of a patient, caregiver, family member, or medical professional.