YARMOUTH, Maine – Industry stakeholders are trying to organize numerous press calls in August about the negative impact of competitive bidding as another way to get the attention of lawmakers, who are in their home districts for the whole month.
Stakeholders say press calls are in the works in Minneapolis and Philadelphia, two areas included in Round 2 of the program, with other states targeted.
“We’re trying to get as much information to lawmakers as possible, and this is another tool to do that,” said Kelly Turner, executive director of People for Quality Care (PFQC), the advocacy arm of The VGM Group.
The PFQC organized the first of these press calls in South Carolina in July. The group is also trying to organize calls in states that are represented by lawmakers on key committees, like Illinois, Ohio, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Rose Schafhauser, executive director of the Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services, says the press calls are a good way to share the horror stories that she’s been receiving from not only providers, but also Medicare beneficiaries and referral sources.
“A major hospital system in the area had a situation where there was a referral for a scooter that went awry and the patient ended up getting harmed,” she said. “We have to get these stories out.”
With the complaint hotline run by the PFQC about to hit 1,500, there are stories to go around in nearly every bid area, despite CMS’s claims of few problems, stakeholders say.
“Congress is saying, ‘We’re not hearing enough from beneficiaries and referral sources,’” said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products, who is involved in organizing the press call in Philadelphia. “So what we really need to do to compel Congress to take action is make sure they’re well aware that beneficiaries are being harmed and they are complaining.”