DME & COMPETITIVE BIDDING
Medical equipment suppliers loose again. The 1st round of the CMS competitive bidding program was a disaster as once again the lowest bidding contractor who was responsible for the bid on CMS’ behalf did not do a fair nor complete job. The same faulty program (with no recourse for those that have to complete bids) is about to go to round #2. In the So. Florida area the 1st bid reduced the number of oxygen providers allowed to deliver these services to about 11% of the existing providers at that time. It would have increased the patient load on these few providers by thousands of patients each. Not even the big national providers were ready for that. As for all of the other categories of DME that were bid at the same time, there were awards that were so scattered that a case manager might have to call 2-3 seperate companies just to take care of 1 patient. This is not profitable fo DME companies to provide only partial services to 1 patient when the costs associated with delivery & set-up for DME items are many times based on multiple item deliveries. If profita aren’t there the DME companies aren”t either. Thus the patient’s choices are limited & about 80+% of the smaller companies go under. If this happens the patient suffers from decreased services they were used to getting, no more hand holding in tough times just slam bam thank you maam type of service.
It has also been proven many times over that decreased competition causes pricing to rise & service levels to drop. Is Medicare going to save in the longer term…NO! Are patients going to have less personal service, lessor quality equipment (afterall how can you afford to spend higher dollars on better equipment when you have just given up 26% of your Medicare reimbursemant)and very little choice who they deal with in their community.