Danger: Bidding Ahead

April 16th, 2014 | Author: Rebecca Rudolph

Like many COPD patients nationwide, you may have experienced trouble accessing home oxygen equipment due to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) program called competitive bidding. This alarming practice has prevented members of our community from accessing life-saving therapies. The COPD Foundation wants you to know we are on it.

What is Competitive Bidding?

Competitive bidding is changing the way that CMS pays for home oxygen supplies. It requires durable medical equipment (DME) companies to apply and be awarded contracts by CMS in order to be providers



for CMS patients. We have seen firsthand how the competitive bidding process has negatively impacted the COPD community by preventing access and causing anxiety among patients, caregivers, and their healthcare providers.

We have been working hard on the competitive bidding issue for two years, but gridlock in Congress has prevented the passage of legislation – making change in the healthcare system difficult. As a result, we have decided to speak directly to CMS through a process known as “submitting comments.”

Why We Have Submitted Comments

There are many benefits to submitting comments to CMS:

  • Comments are an effective way to inform CMS about the negative implications of competitive bidding to patients;
  • CMS takes all comments, including the patient voice, into sincere consideration when making decisions on programs and policy; and, CMS is required by law to respond to all comments as final decisions are made on its’ programs.

Outside of submitting comments to CMS, the COPD Foundation is also lobbying in support of H.R. 1717, the Medicare DMEPOS Pricing Program Act of 2013, which proposes an alternative to the competitive bidding program. Find more information about the bill here.

All COPD patients, or those interested in the issue, should visit our Issue Central page where you can read the comments and sign-on letter.

If you have experienced difficulty accessing your home medical equipment contact the C.O.P.D. Information Line (1-866-316-2673). Our Information Line associates will then officially file the complaint with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Help us help you by completing this survey.


  1. Dee White says:

    Rebecca, your link to the survey is broken, contains extra characters.

  2. Karen Deitemeyer says:

    In response to J. Sinton’s comment. I am a COPD Patient and have been involved with the COPD Foundation for many years. I can tell you that they absolutely are NOT a front for medical suppliers.

    The issue with competitive bidding is that due to the way it has been structured, the bid is awarded to the lowest bidder without any guarantee that they can or will continue to provide the service that is needed.

    Many COPD patients need liquid oxygen in order to remain mobile and active in their communities – liquid oxygen is expensive to provide, and what’s been happening is that some companies who were awarded the bids, are now saying that they will no longer provide liquid oxygen. Canisters and portable oxygen concentrators cannot provide the high flow oxygen that liquid oxygen patients need.

    Many patients who use compressed canisters for their portable oxygen needs are being cut down on the number and/or frequency that the canisters will be delivered to them. Again, this means less mobility for the COPD’er, resulting in their having to stay at home, tethered to their stationary concentrator.

    The COPD Foundation offers so much to COPD patients, including an information line staffed by patients and caregivers; educational materials on living with COPD; Community Education Workshops for patients and clinicians; sponsors conventions at which patients, researchers and clinicians all participate.

    I could go on and on, but I hope you’ll see that your comment is totally unfounded.

    • David Watts says:

      I have Emphysema and require oxygen 24/7. My supplier informed me in March 2014 that they would no longer supply liquid O2 but rather a concentrator and gaseous O2. My requirements cannot be comfortably met using bottled O2, 4 LPM resting and 6 to 10 LPM exercising or working. I am still quite active.
      To make a long story short, I contacted my State senator who in turn contacted Medicare but before Medicare, (CMS) could intervene my supplier decided that since I had raised such a “fuss” they would continue to provide LO2. I believe they were aware that my physician had prescribed Liquid in the first place and that they would be in non-conformance with their CMS contract. They were hoping I would not complain.
      CMS actually called me and told me the prescription could not be changed in the middle of a contract.

      • Norah Montalbano says:

        I was diagnosed with COPE in 1994. I am now on oxygen 24/7. Due to the progression of my disease I need continuous flow – 3-4 liters at rest and 6 – 10 liters exercising or moving around.

        I currently have a concentrator that can go up to 10 liters at home and a portable concentrator that’s on demand and can only go up to 5 liters. I am active and would like to remain that way. I can’t find anyone that will supply the liquid oxygen that I need. What do I do?

  3. Richard Lewer says:

    Health care costs are not being reduced. Insurance rates are skyrocketing. Our granddaughter’s family living below the poverty level would have to pay over $600 per month for heath care insurance. Since they can’t afford that, they will have to pay the fine Obamacare is causing businesses, doctors, and hospitals to cut back on services or go out of business. The bidding process is creating monopolies that will not even be able to provide good service on the price they are being paid.

  4. J. Sinton says:

    Competitive bidding is not a bad thing. It is the main way that health care costs are being reduced. If the system isn’t working well for COPD patients, then the system needs to be tweaked, not eliminated. I’m wondering now if the COPD Foundation is actually a front for medical suppliers. Whose welfare is being protected?

  5. Richard Lewer says:

    The bidding process makes it difficult for the company we are using to provide all of the services we need. The government is commanding monopolies.

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