The initial reaction felt by HME providers when the first round of the so-called competitive bid program was simply “what can we do?” Our industry tried as hard as possible to demonstrate that this would not be feasible, but it still went into effect.
Were the results worth all the efforts Congress put into developing this legislation? No way! From what I have been told the total expenses paid to HME providers were basically the same. However do the beneficiaries feel they benefited? No! Not at all!
What happened is the dollars that kept many small businesses solvent and helped them maintain their employees disappeared. More unemployment, less taxes collected and several companies folded is what happened. These are some of the problems driving the country into a recession. Our small sighted politicians never looked at the big picture. They didn’t listen to their electorate!
There were many complaints by families who lost the source they depended on because they had to travel further from home. It is very disconcerting for a senior citizen or homebound patient to be forced to go elsewhere. They lose the one with whom they have good experiences. A major segment of a patient’s recovery is the level of comfort they have with their provider.
Round two is coming. As hard as we have fought against this, it is now a reality. However, we are all professionals and must continue to work on behalf of our customers and their family caregivers.
Our industry has a major task facing them to show Congress and CMS that round two will be another disaster. Just how much should a provider be paid for a walker? All walkers are not of the same quality. We know there is a large difference between some domestic manufactured and foreign knockoffs. The same applies to wheelchairs and almost everything else for which there are codes but no standards. What has happened is that too many providers are providing the lesser quality products they can obtain because there is no additional remuneration for a better unit. There has to be standards!
Your state associations and AAHomecare are doing as much as possible for every provider. But not every provider belongs to these associations. If all would join together we would see a great deal more accomplished. Need I say more?
If you are not a member of your state association, a national association or a buying group you will meet them all at Medtrade in. Take advantage of this opportunity. Meet with them, talk about your local problems and then join. If not, I have to ask: Will you still be in business for Medtrade 2012?