Two years later
Cost-cutting Medicare bidding program expanding

About this project

For years, anyone with a license could sell power wheelchairs, oxygen tanks and hospital beds to seniors on Medicare. But in 2010, the government agency tried an experiment in cost-cutting: A program that required medical supply firms in certain areas to bid for the right to sell certain pieces of medical equipment to seniors. Two years and $202 million in savings later, the government is rolling out the program nationwide. Officials expect the program could save about $42 billion for taxpayers and seniors over 10 years. But many small local medical supply businesses fear the program’s new requirements will force them to close. Two years after reporting on this test program, the Center re-visits the Southern California area where the pilot program has played out.

Stories

Medicare says medical equipment costs down under pilot program in San Bernardino

A two-year Medicare cost-cutting experiment in San Bernardino and other areas has been wildly successful, officials say, reducing the price of certain medical equipment by 42 percent and saving the government and taxpayers more than $200 million...

Authors

Lauren M. Whaley

Lauren M. Whaley

Lauren M. Whaley is a photographer, radio producer and print reporter specializing in topics related to mental illness, reproductive health care and health disparities. She is also a childbirth photographer.

This year, she is working on a series about how low-income parents access care for perinatal mental illnesses. The project is funded by the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism.

Whaley was a 2016-17 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.

Her work has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Scripps Howard Foundation and the Public Radio Exchange (PRX) STEM story project. She has contributed radio, video, photography and written stories to KQED Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, the San Jose Mercury News, the New York Times and other media outlets. For six years, I worked as the Center for Health Reporting's multimedia journalist, based in Los Angeles. She is a past president of the national organization Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) and spent her early 20s leading canoe expeditions for young women, including a solo-led 45-trip in the Canadian Arctic. 

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