by Brook Raflo

Washington Some of the nation's most influential number crunchers — those who work at the U.S. Congressional Budget Office — March 3 published a budget-cutting handbook of sorts for lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

The report, titled “Budget Options,” includes nearly 300 pages of savings suggestions, and targets home medical equipment specifically.

For example, the federal government could save as much as $3.6 billion between 2004 and 2008, if Congress cut reimbursements for Medicare Part B drugs, the report said. Currently, Medicare reimburses these drugs — which include respiratory and infusion medications — at a rate of 95 percent of the “average wholesale price.” However, the CBO believes that rate is not what providers pay for drugs,” and suggests reducing the reimbursement to 85 percent of AWP.

Another option estimates that using a competitive-bidding model to purchase two high-volume DME items — oxygen supplies and hospital beds — would save Medicare $360 million through 2008. that sell a large amount of supplies.

More information about this report is available at

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