Health
10:10 am
Fri April 12, 2013

Medicare Competitive Bidding Program Expands To Wichita

A competitive bidding program aimed at helping Medicare avoid overpaying for products like scooters, diabetic testing supplies, and oxygen tanks is being expanded to 91 communities nationwide, including Wichita. 

The program began a little more than two years ago as a demonstration project in nine communities, including Kansas City. 

Jonathan Blum, who heads the federal government’s Center for Medicare, says the prices Medicare pays for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies will be reduced by 45 percent.

“Taxpayers will save $26 billion in spending for these supplies,” says Blum.  “Even. better, beneficiaries will save money themselves through lower copayments and premiums.  So we estimate that beneficiaries will save more than $17 billion over the next 10 years.”

Blum says the savings during the initial round of competitive bidding were, in his words, “tremendous”.  And he says the savings came without reducing beneficiaries’ access to equipment and supplies.  Blum says his agency tracked the program very closely, and saw no indication that beneficiaries’ healthcare outcomes worsened as a result of the bidding program.  For the Kansas Public Radio Network, I’m Bryan Thompson.