Medicare Slows Down Select DME Reimbursements

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media , July 6, 2010

Suppliers that are not contract suppliers may continue to provide certain rented medical equipment, oxygen, and oxygen equipment for those beneficiaries who are clients at the time the program begins -- if they elect to continue furnishing the items as "grandfathered" suppliers.

Two trade groups, though, have expressed opposition to the DMEPOS requirements. The American Association for Homecare, in Arlington, VA, said seniors and people with disabilities who rely on home medical equipment and services "will pay a steep price under Medicare's controversial and mislabeled competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment."

The bid prices on DMEPOS "will translate into unsustainable reimbursement rates for homecare providers," says Tyler Wilson, the association's president. "Over time, it will make it harder for seniors and people with disabilities to get the home medical equipment and services they require to live independently."

If CMS officials proceed with the DMEPOS bidding program, "we urge caution against any action that would undermine or reverse the benefits of coordinated care," says Joseph Harmison, PD, president of the National Community Pharmacists Association.

He added that the inclusion of small pharmacies in the bidding program or reimbursing them at the newly announced mail order rates "eventually would result in the virtual elimination of independents from the program."

This is because "independents don't operate with the purchasing power of large chains or mail order competitors and thus can't always match those prices," Harmison says.

Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at

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