Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Kendrick Meek bashed for pushing to kill competitive bidding on Medicare contracts

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek is trying to kill a fledgling program that the federal government says will deflate Medicare costs by requiring competitive bids from companies that provide medical equipment like oxygen tanks and wheelchairs.

The congressman's legislation, which is backed by the medical supply industry and opposed by AARP, has formed a new line of attack for rival Jeff Greene in the Democratic Senate primary.

Greene pointed to tens of thousands of dollars that Meek has received from medical suppliers before and after he introduced the bill.

"This is yet another example of a broken political system where corrupt politicians, like Kendrick Meek, put special interests ahead of the needs and well-being of Florida's citizens," Greene's campaign said in a statement.

Meek's bill would end the competitive bidding program before it starts. He said it needs to be scrapped because it would allow illegitimate and inexperienced companies to get into the game. He noted the program's 2008 false start.

"It was delayed because they had problems with folks lowballing the bid and not able to follow through on the bid," Meek said, "And then you have a number of small businesses, especially in this state, that would spend thousands of dollars in staff hours in putting together a responsible bid and they were shut out of the process."

Meek's office pointed to the broad support for his legislation from 252 members of the House, including 18 of the 25 members from Florida. The bipartisan group of co-sponsors includes Republicans Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, and Democrats Kathy Castor of Tampa, Alcee Hastings of Miramar and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston.

Sean Schwinghammer, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Homecare Services, which represents companies that provide medical equipment and supplies, said the government should focus more on reducing costs in hospitals and doctors' offices. He said increasing government regulation has already forced 50 percent of the businesses in his industry to close.

But supporters of the competitive bidding program say the cost savings will outweigh any inconveniences for Medicare beneficiaries who have to switch equipment providers.

The first round of the program is scheduled to begin in January in nine areas of the country, including Miami and Orlando. The federal government says Medicare beneficiaries will see an average savings of 32 percent.

St. Petersburg Times political editor Adam C. Smith contributed to this report.

Kendrick Meek bashed for pushing to kill competitive bidding on Medicare contracts 07/09/10 [Last modified: Friday, July 9, 2010 10:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs-Bills: Tampa Bay's fatal habit of falling behind


    TAMPA — Okay, all you road scholars, why do the Bucs keep falling behind in games not played at Raymond James Stadium?

    Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) recovers a fumble during the first half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.
  2. Hudson man, 19, killed by hit-and-run driver while walking in street, FHP says


    A 19-year-old Hudson man walking in the street Friday night was struck and killed by a pickup truck that fled the scene, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  3. Road Ranger hurt after truck catches fire in crash at I-275, Busch


    TAMPA — A Road Ranger was seriously injured when a drunk driver ran into the back of his truck on Interstate 275 and both vehicles burst into flame, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

    Brian Nelson Barrett, 42, of Wimauma, was headed north on I-275 in his Road Ranger truck Saturday morning 10/21/17 when a car hit him from behind, causing both vehicles to erupt in flames.
  4. Nicked-up Lightning vs. Penguins tonight



  5. Trump to allow the release of JFK assassination records


    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he doesn't plan to block the scheduled release of thousands of never publicly seen government documents related to President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

    FILE - In this Nov. 22, 1963 file photo, President John F. Kennedy waves from his car in a motorcade in Dallas. Riding with Kennedy are First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, right, Nellie Connally, second from left, and her husband, Texas Gov. John Connally, far left.  President Donald Trump, on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017,  says he plans to release thousands of never-seen government documents related to President John F. Kennedy's assassination.  (AP Photo/Jim Altgens, File) NY107