• Pro-Competition vs. Pro-Business

    Jay Greene of The Detroit Free Press (h/t Kaiser Health News) reports,

    The regulation — which establishes a competitive bidding process for companies that provide medical home equipment to Medicare patients and also limits the number of companies under contract — could drive out of business up to 90 percent of the roughly 500 Michigan home health supply vendors. …

    Last year, Serra [vice president of Henry Ford Health Products] formed a grassroots organization of 85 hospital-based home health suppliers — the National Hospital Coalition on Durable Medical Equipment — to lobby for changes in CMS rules or possibly to seek federal legislation to change the regulations. …

    Medicare’s competitive bidding program, which was mandated by Congress in 2003 and later modified in 2008, is intended to save Medicare more than $1 billion annually.

    In an interview, a Medicare official who declined to be named said hospitals and doctors have an exemption that allows them to bill Medicare outside contracts for certain products, including walkers, infusion pumps and home glucose monitors, if patients require the equipment immediately.

    • AUstin
      Can you offer some commentary. Piece offers pros and cons. Obviously, depending on who you believe is the crux, but will the big boys swoop in and buy the contract winners; will the best companies win and prevail; or, is this short term gain, long term pain as LOS goes up and jobs are ultimately lost from compaines without CMS business.

      • @Brad F – Complicated, isn’t it? I cannot offer additional commentary. I can’t predict the future and I don’t know DME practice and regulations well. I was just making the point that this is a thicket.

    • I’m always amused at the progressives who think they are “pro-competition” whereas conservatives are “pro-business”. Whenever the chance to intervene on behalf of competition comes along, it is invariably the progressives who are pro-business.

      1. TARP. Conservatives wanted to let them fail and take the economic pain. This may have been unwise, but progressive ended out pro-business.
      2. GSE’s. Progressives have been the big supporters of Fannie and Freddie.
      3. Unions. You can’t be pro-union without being pro-business! See also: the auto bailouts.
      4. Licensing. Conservatives are generally against licensing, I think the arguments are generally pretty strong, but even if they fail, it is certainly the “pro-competition” side. Supporting licensing allows existing professionals to restrict supply.
      5. Regulations. I do not think that all regulations fall to regulatory capture, but a lot of them do. Opposing regulations is generally pro-competition; supporting them is pro-business.

      More generally, whenever there is a political decisions to let them fail or bail them out, conservatives line up to let them fail and progressive line up to bail them out. I do not think that progressive are pro-competition at all.