Alexander, Corker Introduce Bill To Protect Tennessee Medicare Recipients Needing Medical Equipment

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tn.) announced Wednesday that they have introduced legislation to ensure Medicare beneficiaries in Tennessee continue to have access to medical equipment.

The bill would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to conduct a rebid for contracts to supply medical equipment to Tennessee’s Medicare beneficiaries through a new competitive bidding system that launched July 1. The senators have called for CMS to fix and restart the competitive bidding program in the state after they found last month that 30 of 98 contracts were awarded to companies not licensed in Tennessee and would have to be voided, just two weeks before the program began.

Senator Alexander said, “We cannot afford to risk the health of Medicare recipients in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga who depend on necessary medical supplies by launching a troubled program that may not be able to meet their needs. The administration needs to rebid the contracts to businesses that are licensed in Tennessee and assure beneficiaries that they won’t be left high and dry.”

Senator Corker said, "It is important for those who rely on Medicare to know that it is working fairly and efficiently. After CMS admitted their mistake, the only way to ensure this program operates equitably in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga is to require CMS to rebid the contracts.”

On May 21, Senators Alexander and Corker, along with Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood), Phil Roe (R-Johnson City), John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-Knoxville), Chuck Fleischmann (R- Ooltewah), Scott DesJarlais, (R-Jasper), Jim Cooper (D-Nashville), Diane Black (R-Gallatin), and Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) sent a letter to CMS requesting details on its policy of awarding Medicare contracts for durable medical equipment to businesses not licensed in Tennessee, a violation of the administration’s bid policy and a violation of Tennessee state law. Durable medical equipment includes products that are intended for at-home care of sick or injured individuals. The category includes wheelchairs, crutches, blood pressure monitors, and hospital beds. 

As a result of their inquiry, CMS found that 30 of 98 contracts had been awarded to businesses not licensed in Tennessee and would be voided—just two weeks before the program was slated to begin.

In a June 14 letter responding to the inquiry from the members, CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner, said, “We have determined that certain out-of-state suppliers that were licensed in their home state, but that did not meet aspects of existing Tennessee licensing requirements at the time of bid submission, were awarded contracts. As a result, CMS will take steps to void contracts for these suppliers in the Tennessee competitive bidding areas, consistent with the policies and guidelines established for the competitive bidding program. This applies to approximately 30 out of the 98 contract suppliers in the Tennessee Competitive Bidding Areas.”

The Medicare Durable Medical Equipment Competitive Bidding program requires home medical equipment suppliers to bid for contracts to serve Medicare beneficiaries in select metropolitan statistical areas across the country.

Winners are chosen on best price to the government, capacity, quality service, and the financial requirements including holding a license from the state.

Medicare beneficiaries will then only be allowed to purchase home medical equipment from the winners for their metropolitan statistical area.

Tennessee has four areas in the program: Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga.


Austin Hatcher Foundation Raises $700,000 During 14th Annual Celebration Of Life And Hope

Health Department Announces Upcoming Vaccination Events

The Joint Chiropractic Hires New Doctor To Run NorthShore Location


The Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer hosted its annual Celebration of Life and Hope this past Saturday. For the first time, the foundation hosted the event in its new Education ... (click for more)

The Hamilton County Health Department encourages all eligible residents to get their COVID-19 vaccination. Officials said, "You do not have to make an appointment to get your shot. The COVID-19 ... (click for more)

The Joint Chiropractic announces the hire of Dr. I-Keyanna Hamlin to run its NorthShore Clinic at 313 Manufacturers Road. Born in Albany, N.Y., Dr. Hamlin is a graduate of Life University ... (click for more)



Living Well

Austin Hatcher Foundation Raises $700,000 During 14th Annual Celebration Of Life And Hope

The Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer hosted its annual Celebration of Life and Hope this past Saturday. For the first time, the foundation hosted the event in its new Education Advancement Center, 1705 S. Holtzclaw Ave. in Chattanooga. With more than 300 individuals in attendance, the space was filled with excitement as the night focused on the foundation’s mission ... (click for more)

Health Department Announces Upcoming Vaccination Events

The Hamilton County Health Department encourages all eligible residents to get their COVID-19 vaccination. Officials said, "You do not have to make an appointment to get your shot. The COVID-19 vaccine has been administered to over 2.8 billion people worldwide and is a safe and effective tool at preventing hospitalization and death. Please stop by our Tennessee Riverpark, Sequoyah ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Hamilton County Has 4 More Virus Deaths And 63 New Cases; Number Of ICU Patients Continues To Drop; Tennessee Has 7 More Deaths

The Hamilton County Health Department reported four more coronavirus deaths on Monday and 63 new positive cases, down from 109 on Friday. The total number of cases in the county now stands at 63,358. The death total is at 642. It is reported the deaths were all men; three white and one race not determined; two age 51-60 and two age 61-70. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations ... (click for more)

Daisy Madison To Retire As City's Chief Financial Officer After Nearly 20 Years

Daisy Madison, the city’s longtime chief financial officer, will conclude her distinguished career at City Hall this year as she begins her transition into retirement, she told senior staff Monday. Ms. Madison was hired as deputy chief finance officer in 1992 by former mayor Gene Roberts. She served with distinction under a succession of mayors, including Jon Kinsey, Bob Corker, ... (click for more)

Opinion

Tennessee Fans Hit A New Low - And Response (2)

Tennessee Vols fans hit a new low at the end of the UTK vs Ole Miss last evening. Maybe Lane Kiffin did us wrong when he left Knoxville for his dream team back in 2009, however, the crass and repulsive behavior of a large number of Tennessee fans didn’t reflect on Kiffin, it reflected on the great state of Tennessee. Has society really reduced itself to believing that reducing ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Beware Of The Cobra

Over the weekend my “Morning Readings” included a lesson that economists teach called the Cobra Effect. Jon Miltimore is the Managing Editor of the Foundation for Economic Education in Atlanta and his ‘FEE.org’ is a highly respected conservative libertarian economic think tank. In his story you are about to read, he claims economists around the world speak often on The Cobra Effect. ... (click for more)