‘We are somehow being cast as the bad guys because we did everything right and won’

Thursday, July 31, 2008

HOLLYWOOD, Fla.--A group of providers who won contracts in Round 1 of national competitive bidding traveled to Washington, D.C., in mid-June and lobbied against an industry-backed effort to delay the program.

“We’ve all invested a lot of time and money in being prepared to go live July 1,” said Jeffrey Holman, a winning Florida provider and founding member of the Contracted Medical Equipment Suppliers Association of America. “When you talk to members, you find out that trucks have been purchased, inventory sometimes put into place, warehouses have been filled. Now we are somehow being cast as the bad guys because we did everything right and won.”

In mid-June, 50 to 60 of the 350 winning providers in Round 1 had joined the new association, said Holman, president of First Priority Medical Services in Hollywood, Fla.

The competitive bidding program has flaws, Holman acknowledged, but they can be easily fixed and should not lead to delaying the program. Of the industry’s progress in delaying the program, Holman told The Hill, a beltway publication: “There are going to be a rash of lawsuits” charging breach of contract.

Michael Reinemer, AAHomecare’s vice president of communications and policy, said no one discounts the “heroic efforts” by the winning bidders to comply with the program under very tight deadlines.

“But I think looking at the situation more broadly you have to recognize that this program is a disaster,” he said. “It has to be fixed for the sake of future rounds.”

Reinemer also mentioned that a number of winning bidders have said they’d prefer a 9.5% cut rather than go ahead with the program.

Winning bidder Tom Mullaney, who does not belong to the Contracted Medical Equipment Suppliers Association, isn’t one of them.

“As a business person, it needs to go through because of the amount of time and money we’ve spent,” said Mullaney, president of Mullaney Medical in Cincinnati. “As a provider, I think it is a bad plan.”