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Good or Bad News for Medicare Diabetes Patients?

Medicare and Medicaid competitive bidding may result in limited options….

After successfully piloting the first round in nine regions, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will expand the competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment (DME) and mail-order programs across the nation starting in July. In the first round, the program brought down the cost for certain supplies an average of 45 percent for Medicare patients.

The cost of diabetes supplies such as blood glucose meter, test strips, and lancets are expected to be reduced an average of 72 percent through a national mail-order program. According to CMS, “The Medicare program will save $25.7 billion and beneficiaries will save $17.1 billion between 2013 and 2022.”

However, not everyone is happy with the new program. The DME industry, including manufacturers, suppliers and providers of medical equipment, believe that the new program “is offering fewer and lowest-cost products” which will substantially discourage providers from offering brand name or more advanced products.

The agency has used real-time monitoring data that showed very few beneficiary complaints and no negative impact on beneficiary health status compared with non-competitive bidding areas. The program will continue to expand under close monitoring.

“We will continue to monitor the program closely as it expands to ensure the same success we saw in the program last year, with beneficiaries continuing to have access to all the services they need, while paying a much lower price,” said Jonathan Blum, deputy CMS administrator and director of CMS’ Center for Medicare.

CMS Feb 21, 2013