There are approximately 224,000 people with Medicare living in the greater St. Louis area. Beginning July 1, they will be subject to a new competitive bid program when purchasing durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies. The program was prompted by the realization that for years, Medicare and its beneficiaries have been paying too much for durable medical equipment such as wheel chairs, walkers, oxygen and diabetic supplies. Therefore, both the government and individuals were paying more than they had to. Another reason for the program is to prevent fraud from unscrupulous suppliers.
Under the new system, potential suppliers must submit bids to Medicare and meet a set of guidelines, including having a surety bond. Round 1 of the competitive bid program began in nine areas of the country in 2011. In the first year of operation, Medicare realized a 42 percent savings. The St. Louis region is part of Round 2 which will begin July 1.
In addition to the competitive bid program which is being rolled out by region, Medicare recipients nationwide will realize savings of up to 72 percent on diabetic testing supplies that are ordered through the mail under Medicare’s new Diabetic Testing Supplies program. Not only will the price be lower, but patients can be assured they will not be sent more supplies than they actually need which has been a frequent problem.
Patients with questions can call (800)MEDICARE or (800) 633-4227 or consult the Medicare website.
Julie Brookhart, Public Affairs Specialist with the Kansas City Regional Office of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was Don Marsh’s guest on St. Louis on the Air to discuss the new competitive bid program.