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As costs go up, HME providers bear burden

As costs go up, HME providers bear burden

YARMOUTH, Maine – Price increases and freight surcharges have HME providers feeling “squeezed” – and in some cases, looking for other sources of equipment, they say. 

“Manufacturers going up on price is a huge burden,” said Kimberly Lynn, operations manager for Carolina Apothecary in Reidsville, N.C. “Reimbursement is not going up, so we’re going to be changing some of our standard products to find one that fits the reimbursement.”  

A handful of large manufacturers in August and September announced price increases, including Invacare, which told customers it would be implementing a 10% price increase on certain bed and manual wheelchair parts as of Oct. 11, and Inogen, which said on a recent earnings call that it would implement price increases in the “low double-digit range” on all products as of Sept. 1. Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare also began passing on a portion of their increased costs to providers on Sept. 1. 

Driving the increases: the cost of raw materials, shortages in electronics and other components, and ongoing pressure on the supply chain. 

“We’re not immune to the same market forces every other business in the country is facing,” said Skip Matthews, president of Louis & Clark Medical Equipment & Supply in Springfield, Mass. “It’s every category from supplies to equipment. We’re also seeing it with parts for repairs.” 

For many providers, even worse than price increases on equipment are the freight surcharges they are starting to see levied on their orders. Invacare, for example, has added surcharges ranging from $15 for bed rails and front riggings to $125 for three-position recliners. 

“These huge freight surcharges are really tough on a lot of folks,” said Craig Rae, owner of Penrod Medical Equipment in Salisbury, N.C. “They’ve added surcharges of $75 on manual wheelchairs that cost $130. We’re getting squeezed because we’re dealing with six-year-old competitive bidding rates.” 

Whether it’s price increases or surcharges, providers expect to see more manufacturers follow suit. 

“Once one does it, they all do,” said Jason Jones, president of Jones Medical Supply in Troy, Ala. “We blame COVID and move on; it’s the cost of doing business.”


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