Dan Shields, MPM, RRT

The competitive bidding program is a race to the bottom for the healthcare industry. It is based on the mistaken impression that the DME companies are ripping Medicare off! I have yet to meet a patient who WANTS to carry an oxygen vessel around in order to breath! Patients use medical equipment because they HAVE TO!! Currently DME companies compete based on service. The prices are fixed by Medicare and allow only a modest 20% profit which we finance interest free over 13 months for rental items. Oxygen reimbursement is causing all the uproar because a concentrator can be purchased for $600 and is reimbursed at
175.79 per month. This ignores the fact that the systems required to provide for portability cost over $2000 for a portable concentrator or home-fill system and more if the patient requires liquid oxygen. A Liquid oxygen base costs $950 and portables cost $750-900 PLUS you have to pay for the contents and/or delivery costs to get it to the patient. We don’t recover our costs on these systems for 2 years!and that is at the CURRENT reimbursement rate! How many businesses can sustain a projected 30% revenue loss and stay in business? Competitive bidding will result in a few national companies providing cheap products to huge numbers of patients who will have to put up with horrible service because they have NO CHIOICE!!
When they can’t get service they will have no other option than to go to the hospital! One day in the hospital is more expensive than a year of home oxygen!
I am an owner of a small HME company near Pittsburgh so we are in round 1. If we do not win the bid I will have to eliminate several positions to stay in business. If we WIN the bid I will still have to eliminate several positions! At a time when the economy is in recession, the dollar is collapsing, and the unemployment rate is skyrocketing how can Congress implement such a flawed program with little evidence that it will even save money?

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