Alabama: Requirement gets physical

Friday, May 23, 2014

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – HME providers here in March hailed the passage of a bill that they say will protect Medicare beneficiaries from shoddy service.

The bill, H.B. 225, contains a provision that makes a physical presence in the state a requirement of licensure for most HME providers. Signed into law March 19, it is slated to take effect Aug. 1.

“We had people shipping oxygen concentrators and power mobility devices with absolutely no one within 1,000 miles to look after the patients,” said Michael Hamilton, executive director of the Alabama Durable Medical Equipment Association.

Alabama saw many Round 2 contracts awarded to companies that were, in some cases, located several hundred to more than 1,000 miles from the Birmingham competitive bidding area. In the event of another round of bidding, out-of-state providers would have to open a local location.

Alabama’s HME licensure board will spend the next several months hammering out regulations to ensure all providers meet the new requirement, says Peter Czapla, co-owner of Quality Home Health Care in Wetumpka and chairman of the state’s licensure board.

“If (out-of-state) providers intend to provide good quality service in our state, we welcome them,” he said. “They have to be able to take care of the patients and give them the service they need. It’s that simple.”

The law won’t impact providers of diabetes testing supplies, nebulizer medications, and other products that can be more easily delivered by mail order, or providers who live just outside state borders, according to Hamilton. 

As to any potential impact on existing out-of-state contract suppliers, Hamilton predicts it won’t be a problem for most.

“The people who were out of state that won bids have bought companies here so they have a local presence,” he said.