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Letter from 244 Concerned Auction Experts on the Medicare Competitive Bidding Program

Peter Cramton ()

Papers of Peter Cramton from University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton

Abstract: We are economists, computer scientists and engineers with expertise in the theory and practice of auctions. In September 2010, many of us signed a letter to Congressional leaders pointing out the numerous fatal flaws in the current Medicare competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment (DME). We also emphasized that the flaws could easily be fixed by adopting modern auction methods that have been developed over the last fifteen years and are now well-understood. The flaws in the auctions administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are numerous. The use of non-binding bids together with setting the price equal to the median of the winning bids provides a strong incentive for low-ball bids—submitting bids dramatically below actual cost. This leads to complete market failure in theory and partial market failure in the lab. Another problem is the lack of transparency. For example, bidder quantities are chosen arbitrarily by CMS, enabling a wide range of prices to emerge that have no relation to competitive market prices. We write today, nine months later, to report that—much to our dismay—there are to date no signs that CMS has responded to the professional opinions of auction experts or taken any serious steps to fix the obvious flaws to the competitive bidding program. Rather CMS continues to recite the mantra that all is well and that CMS does not plan to make any changes to the program as it expands from nine pilots to the entire United States.

Keywords: Medicare auctions; health care auctions; procurement auctions (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D44 I18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 4 pages
Date: 2012, Revised 2012
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea
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Published in Letter to President Obama, the White House, 17 June 2011

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