More competitive bidding in Medicare?

Austin is on vacation, but I feel compelled to give him a victory lap nonetheless:

The Obama administration said Wednesday that it would vastly expand the use of competitive bidding to buy medical equipment for Medicare beneficiaries after a one-year experiment saved money for taxpayers and patients without harming the quality of care.

The experiment represented a sharp break from the usual fee-for-service Medicare program, under which beneficiaries can choose any supplier or provider of goods and services. In the experiment, Medicare officials invited bids and awarded contracts to 356 suppliers of medical equipment in nine metropolitan areas, including Cleveland, Dallas, Miami-Fort Lauderdale and Riverside, Calif.

Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said the pilot program had reduced Medicare costs by 42 percent, or $202 million, by securing lower prices and curbing “inappropriate utilization” of personal medical equipment in the nine markets.

Granted, I’m biased. But few have been beating the drums for the potential of competitive bidding like this blog has.

UPDATE: Merrill Goozner had the goods a month ago.


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