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TheStreet Open House

227 Congressmen Ask Medicare To Delay Implementing Questionable Procurement Program

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A bipartisan majority of 227 Representatives in the House have joined forces on a letter asking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to delay implementation of a questionable procurement program for home medical equipment, says the American Association for Homecare. The program, known as "National Competitive Bidding," is set to expand into 91 new areas on July 1.

The letter sent yesterday to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner focused on "the lack of transparency, the lack of binding bids during the contract process, and the improper vetting of the financial wherewithal of many firms that have been awarded contracts." The letter was signed by 60% of House Republicans and 40% of House Democrats.

At a press briefing Thursday morning, five of the Congressmen who support a delay spoke about their reasons for doing so.

"We are concerned that mishandling of the bidding process, as outlined in the letter, will impact Medicare's ability to serve its beneficiaries and the taxpayers," said Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.). "We urge the Administrator to do the right thing and delay the program through the end of 2013 in order to allow for adequate investigation and correction of the significant problems that we have identified."

Rep. Thompson worked with Rep. Bruce Braley (D- Iowa) to educate their colleagues about the poorly designed program and to get their signatures on the letter.

"A government-imposed monopoly in medical equipment will put countless small businesses that provide medical supplies out of business, kill jobs in local communities, and reduce choices for Medicare beneficiaries," said Rep. Braley. "The free market should be allowed to work within Medicare, and a bipartisan group of representatives comprising a majority of the U.S. House agree."

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