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The following was released fro AA Homecare as an update to their interactions with OIG.

WASHINGTON (Feb. 11, 2015)—Last Thursday, 11 AAHomecare staff members and industry stakeholders met with the HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to discuss their upcoming study on the CMS competitive bidding program and the effects on patient access. The group discussed the goals for the OIG report as well as the methodology that has been used in previous reporting on access and utilization rates.

AAHomecare shared examples of how CMS requirements make the process of acquiring or supplying necessary home medical equipment extremely burdensome and have caused many patients to start paying out of pocket for the supplies they need. The HME community knows that this is not a positive shift for many of the patients that can’t afford to do so.

The importance of the upcoming OIG study was amplified when a survey on limited access to insulin pumps and testing strips for diabetes patients was published by the American Association of Diabetes Educators. According to their research, beneficiaries reported difficulties in finding providers with the supplies they needed or the replacement equipment for the insulin pump systems they were already using.

“We in the HME industry know the situation is much more complicated than simply stating providers are not carrying the necessary supplies,” said Kim Brummett, AAHomecare vice president of regulatory affairs. “Low-ball bidding has made it impossible for honest suppliers to carry certain products when the reimbursement rate is lower than the cost of the product, and documentation requirements from Medicare make the process difficult. This is a problem many AAHomecare members are well acquainted with.”

“It is our strong belief that the results of the OIG study will reflect that patient access is affected by competitive bidding. CMS wants to go with the line that it is good that oxygen claims are decreasing. But the truth is that COPD diagnosis has increased over the years, so how are those patients getting serviced?” said Tom Ryan, AAHomecare president and CEO. “Competitive bidding not only hurts businesses by eliminating healthy, real competition, it also hurts patients.” Visit aahomecare.org.