WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 24, 2016)—A leading scientific journal is publishing a study finding that Medicare’s competitive bidding program for home medical equipment and supplies caused adverse health outcomes, including increased hospitalization and death, of diabetic Medicare beneficiaries nationwide. According to the findings to be released by the study’s sponsor, the National Minority Quality Forum, the competitive bidding program, originally envisioned as a cost-savings measure, is also driving up costs in the form of avoidable hospital bills and exposing beneficiaries to much higher out-of-pocket costs for those unnecessary inpatient stays.

The peer-reviewed study builds on concerns for the bidding program first raised by the Government Accountability Office in a 2012 report that questioned the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) safety monitoring methods for the program. Working with leading endocrinologists, the study finds that the bidding program has disrupted diabetic patients’ ability to access diabetes testing supplies and that this disruption can be associated with increases in deaths, higher hospitalization rates and inpatient costs.

In a statement on Friday, Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare, echoed the report’s recommendation to suspend the diabetic supplies component of the program until CMS can demonstrate its ability to effectively monitor the health outcomes stemming from the competitive bidding program.

This study, coming from highly-qualified researchers and subject to rigorous peer review, is especially timely given CMS’s recent release of the latest new pricing cuts noted above, which further reduce reimbursement rates for test strips and other diabetic supplies. AAHomecare will develop talking points related to this study that you can use in advocacy efforts related to the bidding program.

The ahead-of-print article "Impact of CMS Competitive Bidding Program on Medicare Beneficiary Safety and Access to Diabetes Testing Supplies: A Retrospective, Longitudinal Analysis" can be found here; the full study is set for publication in the April issue of the Journal of Diabetes Care. More information can also be found in NMQF’s press release, titled Medicare’s Competitive Bidding Program Puts Beneficiaries’ Lives at Risk.

Visit aahomecare.org for more information.