Make us your home page
Instagram

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

Loading...
  1. Air bag recalls, lawsuits lead Takata to file for bankruptcy

    Autos

    Shattered by recall costs and lawsuits, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. filed Monday for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., saying it was the only way it could keep on supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people.

    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. CEO Shigehisa Takada bows during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of defective air bag inflators.
[(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]
  2. Philando Castile family reaches $3 million settlement in death

    Crime

    MINNEAPOLIS — The mother of Philando Castile, a black motorist killed by a Minnesota police officer last year, has reached a nearly $3 million settlement in his death, according to an announcement Monday by her attorneys and the Minneapolis suburb that employed the officer.

    A handout dashboard camera image of Officer Jeronimo Yanez firing at Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn., July 6, 2016. [Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension via The New York Times]
  3. From the food editor: Almond-Crusted Chicken Tenders

    Cooking

    I decided my almond chicken obsession was becoming a bit much.

    Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  4. Forecast: Soggy, yet hot, workweek ahead across Tampa Bay

    Weather

    A soggy workweek is ahead across Tampa Bay as decent chances for scattered storms remain consistent over the next several days.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  5. Travel ban, Kennedy retirement speculation the focus as Supreme Court prepares for break

    Courts

    WASHINGTON — Before taking their long summer break, the Supreme Court justices are poised to act on the Trump administration's travel ban and a separation of church and state dispute involving a Missouri church playground.

    Justice Anthony Kennedy, shown in 2007, has given no public sign that he would step down this year and give President Donald Trump his second high court pick in the first months of his administration. Kennedy's departure would allow conservatives to take firm control of the court. [Associated Press]