Citing reduced access to care and higher costs, two dozen consumer and patient advocacy organizations sent a letter of thanks to Reps Glenn Thompson (R-Pa) and Jason Altmire (D-Pa) for introducing HR 1041, a bipartisan bill to repeal the Medicare competitive bidding program for home medical equipment and services (HME).

The Medicare bidding program applies to home medical equipment and services, such as medically required oxygen therapy, and continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) and respiratory assistive devices. The bidding program was implemented on January 1, 2011, in nine metropolitan areas including Charlotte, NC, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas-Fort Worth, Kansas City, Miami, Orlando, Fla, Pittsburgh, and Riverside, Calif. The program is scheduled to expand to an additional 91 areas later this year.

The letter underscores the challenges that Medicare beneficiaries and home care providers face as a result of Medicare’s bidding program. Among the groups signing the letter are the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the American Association of People with Disabilities, and the National Family Caregivers Association. Titled the "Fairness in Medicare Bidding Act," HR 1041 was introduced on March 11 and has gained 53 cosponsors, including 30 Republicans and 23 Democrats.