New Medicare approach to equipment, supplies
If you are a Medicare beneficiary or someone who helps people access medical equipment or supplies such as oxygen equipment, diabetic supplies or wheelchairs, you should know about a Medicare program called Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS) competitive bidding program, that saves money for taxpayers and people with Medicare.
Under this program, providers of certain medical equipment and supplies submit bids which Medicare uses to set payments that are lower than the price that is currently paid for these items. Qualified providers with the winning bids are “accredited” as Medicare contract suppliers.
The first round of DMEPOS competitive bidding started January 1, 2011, in nine areas of the country and in the first year saved the Original (Part A and B) Medicare program approximately $202.1 million dollars. Round two expands the program to 91 additional areas and begins on July 1, 2013. These areas are based on certain zip codes and are referred to as Competitive Bidding Areas or CBAs.
Alaska currently does not have any ZIP codes designated as Competitive Bidding Areas; however, Round 2 introduces a National Mail-Order Diabetic Supply program. As of July 1, 2013, Medicare beneficiaries who get their diabetic testing supplies delivered by mail will have to use a contract supplier accredited by Medicare. This National mail-order program affects all 50 states and the territories of the United States.
Alaskans who use DMEPOS products and travel will also need to make sure they access contract “accredited” suppliers if they visit a Competitive Bidding Area and need to access DMEPOS covered equipment while outside of Alaska. Always make sure to talk with your current medical equipment supplier to see what the rules are and if you will need to make arrangements in the area you are traveling to.
If you would like to access a list of products covered under the DMEPOS program and review the ZIP codes designated as Competitive Bidding Areas, or if you would like to locate an approved Medicare DMEPOS supplier, you can call Alaska’s Medicare Information Office at 1-800-478-6065, call 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227) or visit Medicare’s Web site at http://www.medicare.gov/supplier.
Jeanne Larson is the health program associate at the Alaska Medicare Information Office.