The Philadelphia area, including South Jersey and Wilmington, is one of 91 locales in the second phase of the program, dictated by a series of laws first signed in 2003 under President George W. Bush and extended in President Obama's Affordable Care Act of 2010.
Medicare is the taxpayer-funded federal program that pays medical bills for many people age 65 or older. The old payment system worked well for many suppliers, who led opposition to the original law and this version. The first phase had nine cities and produced a six-month savings of $130 million, Medicare officials said, adding they project savings of $28 billion over 10 years.
"We detected no change in access and no change in quality of care" in the first round, Medicare deputy administrator Jon Blum said in a conference call with reporters.
The durable medical devices include manual and electric wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, and hospital beds. There will also be a nationwide program for price bids on diabetic blood-testing supplies. Patients won't have to do anything until early 2012 but can call 1-800-633-4227 (1-800-MEDICARE) with questions. Medicare will begin an awareness and education program for suppliers on how to apply for the program.
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