Opening remarks of Peter Cramton, Professor of Economics, University of Maryland, and Jonathan Blum, Deputy Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, at the Medicare Auction Conference, held at the University of Maryland on 1 April 2011. The Medicare Auction Conference, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the University of Maryland brought together 106 stakeholders to collaborate on how to improve the Medicare DME Competitive Bidding program. The Medicare auction program is currently in a pilot stage, but will soon be expanding nationwide (with Round 2). This was a critical opportunity to debate the basic issues as well as learn about the latest auction methods that could simplify and improve the effectiveness and sustainability of the auction program. In addition, the conference provided a forum to debate whether auctions are feasible in the Medicare setting and how they can best be structured.