In a program that is facing $70 trillion in unfunded liabilities, one would hope that the government would take advantage of every opportunity to cut costs. However, Congress is balking at changes that would save Medicare recipients millions of dollars and taxpayers many times more.

Michael Leavitt, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, explains in an article in The Wall Street Journal that Medicare could save $1 billion a year by doing business with companies that are willing to provide Medicare with medical equipment for lower prices. Right now, Medicare pays $198.40 a month to rent medical equipment that would cost only $600 to buy. This price gouging is a result of pre-arranged contracts with medical equipment providers that have no competition for government business, and as a result, have no incentive to offer lower prices.

Pilot programs that award Medicare contracts based on competitive bidding have resulted in lower prices, but Congress has been reluctant to pass the bill that would apply this same competitive bidding to all Medicare equipment contracts.

With Medicare staring astronomical debt in the face, I don’t think we have the option of turning down any rational opportunity to cut costs.

– Kalese Hammonds