WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 18, 2016)—Dan Starck, chair of CQRC, responds to the GAO Access Report on Competitive Bidding:

"While the CQRC has supported competitive bidding in concept, we remain deeply concerned about the implementation of the competitive bidding program. Today's report shows that fewer beneficiaries are receiving home oxygen therapy in light of competitive bidding."

“In the report, the number of beneficiaries receiving home oxygen therapy fell by 13 percent in competitive bidding areas and 7 percent in noncompetitive bid areas. This declining trend is concerning due to the growth in lung disease. According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control, chronic lower respiratory disease, primarily COPD, was the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2014. And according to a 2012 analyses by the Cleveland Clinic, the prevalence of COPD is increasing. Recent estimates suggest that there are approximately 23.6 million men and women with COPD in the U.S. and more than 52 million sufferers around the world."

"In addition, we remain concerned that the complaints described by patient advocates and hospital discharge planners highlighted by the GAO report are not being addressed. Despite CMS's assurances that everything is working, these groups have identified specific and systemic problems that can and should be fixed by addressing underlying problems with the competitive bidding program.”

The CQRC is urging Congress to pass the Patient Access to Durable Medical Equipment Act (PADME), legislation to reinstate the phase-in of the application of competitive bidding rates in non-competitive bid areas. The bill will provide more time for Congress to evaluate the effects of rate reductions on beneficiary access, while addressing the underlying issues with home oxygen reimbursement in non-competitive bid areas.

Visit cqrc.org for more information.