Florida Newspapers Examine Medicare Issues
TwoFloridanewspapers recently reported on developments in Medicare rules and their impacton state health care providers and medical equipment suppliers. Summariesappear below.
- Competitive bidding program: The new Medicare durable medical equipment bidding program aimed at reducing fraudulent activities and beneficiaries' health care costs could impact medical equipment suppliers nationwide and lead to thousands of lost jobs in South Florida, according to the Accredited Medical Equipment Providers of America, the Miami Herald reports. The program will be implemented in 10 communities, including Miami-Dade and Broward counties and part of Palm Beach County. AMEPA officials said CMS approved 18 of the 402 mechanized wheelchair providers and 44 of the 501 oxygen equipment providers in the three counties. AMEPA President Rob Brand said, "This whole process has been flawed," noting that five of the oxygen equipment providers do not have valid state licenses to conduct their business. Acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems said that beneficiaries remain a top priority at the agency. Weems said, 'In the Miami area, beneficiaries are going to save 29% on average over what they are paying now," adding that savings for some patients, such as diabetics, will be 41%. 'We know we have been overpaying for durable medical equipment,' Weems said (Wyss, Miami Herald, 6/6).
- Palliative care: CMS officials on Wednesday issued new rules that would give Medicare hospice patients a larger role in managing their end-of-life care plans, the Palm Beach Post reports. Under the new rules -- scheduled to take effect Dec. 2 -- hospice care patients will have increased access to pain management programs, the option to decline treatment and the ability to choose their attending physician. The new rules would apply to nearly 1 million Medicare beneficiaries at more than 3,000 Medicare-certified hospice facilities nationwide. According to the Post, many hospice facilities already allow beneficiaries to make such decisions but this is the first time CMS has stated the rules in its regulations. Weems said, "As more patients and their families come to understand and select hospice care, we felt it was critical to outline what rights patients have to control the care they receive in their final days" adding, "End-of-life care has changed markedly in the past 25 years, and it is time to update our regulations to reflect advances in medicine and hospice industry practices as well as patient rights" (Lipman, Palm Beach Post, 6/4).
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