A: Medicare says patients had plenty of supplies. But surprisingly, mail-order claims dropped the first year. The Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general discovered that some suppliers were billing Medicare for drugstore-sold supplies — which at the time were reimbursed at a higher rate — even though they actually shipped cheaper mail-order supplies. Congress later closed that loophole, mandating the same reimbursement for drugstores and mail-order starting July 1.
Q: What's happening with other medical equipment?
A: That part of the initiative has hit some bumps. Medicare had awarded contracts to nearly 800 suppliers of those items but it turned out that some didn't have certain licenses required by state authorities. Medicare says it has voided 30 of 96 supplier contracts in Tennessee, but that enough remain to do the job. It is investigating the situation in Maryland.
The home supply industry's American Association for Homecare, which opposes Medicare's competitive bidding program, says the licensing issue is a symptom of broader problems. Members of Congress last week asked Medicare to delay the program's expansion, but that's not expected to happen.
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