New Program could Hurt Medical Suppliers

February 22, 2013 Updated Feb 22, 2013 at 9:20 AM EDT

By Elizabeth Carey

February 22, 2013 Updated Feb 22, 2013 at 9:20 AM EDT

Medical equipment suppliers are bracing for changes that could hurt their businesses. A new bidding and contract system is changing the way Medicare reimburses patients for items like wheelchairs, oxygen supplies and diabetic supplies. The program goes into effect July 1. It is supposed to save the government $25 billion and lower costs for some equipment, while making it more accessible for patients. But suppliers say it will put them out of business leaving seniors and patients to deal with national companies with no local connection. Some WNY businesses say they may be forced to cut jobs while others are looking for ways to survive. You can read more about the impact in today's Business First.

Visit Buffalo Niagara is facing Erie County budget cuts of up to $330,000 as the county faces a projected $25 million fiscal hole over the next four years. Visit Buffalo Niagara says that could mean a cutback on marketing and promotional efforts. A report in today's Business First says Buffalo is already behind other cities in public support. Here's what other cities are spending:

Visit Buffalo Niagara's budget is $3.86 million. Pittsburgh spends more than $9.4 million. Milwaukee's budget is close to $8 million. Grand Rapids tops $5 million.