Blackburn Column in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Takes NCB to Task
Opinion piece penned by Georgie Blackburn explains flaws of NCB and how it will harm healthcare.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran an opinion column explaining the dangers of competitive bidding written by Georgie Blackburn, vice president of government relations and legislative affairs for Tarentum, Pa.-based provider BLACKBURN’s.
The article “Home Medical Equipment Services Firms Not the Villain,” explains the benefits of HME and homecare, highlights the industry’s small budget footprint when it comes to Medicare, and conveys the patient benefits from being treated in their homes.
The piece also debunks arguments that competitive bidding is on hold.
“The false narrative in circulation is that the home medical equipment sector has escaped reimbursement cuts -- most pointedly by persuading Congress to prevent competitive bidding,” Blackburn writes. “The reality is the bidding program is on track, even though home medical equipment services already have been cut by legislation passed in 2003, 2005 and 2008. Additionally, two items that help beneficiaries remain independent by keeping them out of institutional care -- power wheelchairs and home oxygen therapy -- were cut by 26 percent in 2007 and 27 percent in 2009.
“While the controversial bid program was delayed by Congress last year in order to address numerous flaws, the home medical equipment sector paid for the delay through a nationwide 9.5 percent reimbursement reduction on all bid-upon items,” she added.
Blackburn, who is also a member of the HME Business Editorial Advisory Board, also points out the dangers of letting competitive bidding proceed.
“The bidding regulations would eliminate as many as 90 percent of qualified providers through selective contracting and prevent us from caring for our customers for a three-year contract period,” she explained. “This reduces local patient access to quality care and removes a patient's right to choose a provider.
“Competitive bidding is similar to a closed-model HMO and would result in government-mandated consolidation in the home medical equipment and services sector,” Blackburn continued. “Over the long run, the bid program will increase costs by complicating the transition from hospital to home, lengthening hospital stays and increasing the likelihood of re-hospitalizations.”
Blackburn concludes by writing that protecting homecare is critical: “We are all for increasing competition and cutting costs, but not through a flawed bid system that reduces patient care and precludes 90 percent of existing providers.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is in the top 40 daily newspapers in the United States in terms of circulation. The complete column can be viewed on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette web site (click here).