"Competitive Bidding" Compromise To Hurt Disabled Medicare Patients And Close Small Businesses Nationwide
Health Care Advocates Fear Legislation Is First Step On Path To National Health Care
WASHINGTON, DC -- (INTERNET WIRE) -- 09/27/2002 -- Home medical equipment (HME) industry leaders are warning HME providers, hospitals, physicians, and Medicare patients of the potentially dire consequences of a compromise measure that came out of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee late Thursday, September 26. Jim Walsh, president of VGM Management Ltd., today made it clear where his HME advocacy group stood on the whole "competitive bidding" issue: "All HME providers need to understand that the wolf is at the door, but The VGM Group will continue to fight this onerous provision that will deny Medicare beneficiaries access and choice when it comes to obtaining HME and related services."

The VGM Group has been at the forefront of a grassroots lobbying effort to defeat competitive bidding for home medical equipment, which will also negatively affect thousands of small businesses throughout the U.S. "Inclusion of national competitive bidding for Home Medical Equipment in the Baucus-Grassley Beneficiary Access and Medicare Payment Equity Package doesn't mean the battle is over," Walsh asserts. "It is critical for everyone to understand that any savings that will allegedly result from 'competitive bidding' will only be because services are being reduced." (www.vgm.com/bidding)
Early next week, The VGM Group will undertake a mass mailing to dealers throughout the country that will contain information about the Senate legislation package.

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Georgia Senator Continues Fight on Capitol Hill
"The whole focus on health care should be on the patient," asserts U.S. Senator Max Cleland (D-GA), one of Congress's most ardent defenders of quality patient care and fair access. "If you focus only on price, then you just took your eye off the ball." As a former head of the U.S. Veterans Administration who spent months rehabilitating in V.A. hospitals himself, Senator Cleland knows first-hand how critically important quality patient care is to the physical and emotional well-being of all Americans.

Senator Cleland, a decorated and handicapped Vietnam war hero, echoes the sentiments of thousands of Americans who face potential hardships, either financial or physical, if the so-called "competitive bidding" segment (section 511) of the Medicare Modernization and Prescription Drug Act of 2002 (HR 4954) passes the upcoming Senate vote and becomes the law of the land.

Health Care Industry Executive Warns of Diminished Patient Care

Van Miller, President and CEO of VGM, Inc., issued this alert: "If we allow Congress to enact this 'competitive bidding' program for the whole country, it is our patients who would suffer most. Furthermore, those with disabilities will have their freedom of choice restricted in many ways. Government bureaucrats will limit access to only the cheapest products available via Medicare, along with a shrinking pool of providers." Miller continues: "It also guarantees diminishing quality and quantity of services presently provided on a competitive basis by trained rehab technologists whose main motivation is to satisfy legitimate patient and physician needs."

More Federal Power, Control and Inevitable Expansion---Doctors Next?

"I am especially concerned about the unbelievably broad range of almost dictatorial powers that this legislation will put into the hands of the Secretary of Health and Human Services," reports Jim Walsh, who also serves as General Counsel to the VGM Group. "Furthermore, once the federal government gains control over the HME sector of healthcare industry, what's to stop Washington bureaucrats from taking away the patient's right to choose their own hospitals, pharmacies, home health care providers, assisted care facilities therapists, and even doctors? What will stop the bureaucracy from growing, once they've tasted blood?"

Walsh contends that the "competitive bidding" legislation is nothing more than a thinly-veiled first step in a concerted effort to eventually convert America's traditional private health care system into a government-controlled national health care program via a cleverly-spun scheme that has been purposefully misnamed "competitive bidding."

The VGM Group (www.vgm.com) is a member service organization based in Waterloo, Iowa that features thousands of health care providers on its organization's membership roster.

John Gallagher, VGM's Vice President Government Relations, will field all inquiries and coordinate interview requests. For more information, call Mr. Gallagher at 1-800-642-6065, or e-mail him at john.gallagher@vgm.com.

Contact: John Gallagher
Title: Vice President Government Relations
Phone: 800-642-6065
Email: john.gallagher@vgm.com

"It was once written "To thine own self be true". But how do we know who we really are? Every man must confront the monster within himself, if he is ever to find peace without. .." Outer Limits(Monster)