AWP & CRT: Providers aim to serve referrals more broadly

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Friday, December 14, 2018

YARMOUTH, Maine – Medicare’s any willing provider provision, set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2019, could mean some small strategic shifts for complex rehab providers.

A number of those providers say they will seek new business under the provision, but only on a limited basis.

“We do plan to accept Medicare Group 2 PMD orders after Jan. 1, but (only) in clinics where we already get referrals,” said Doug Westerdahl, president and CEO of Monroe Wheelchair in Rochester, N.Y. “We have no plans to sell any other competitive bidding products.”

CMS plans to keep the provision in place for two years, while it makes significant changes to its competitive bidding program.

Provider James Rogers also plans to use the provision to serve referral sources in a broader way.

“It allows us to service some of our referral sources that we’ve not been able to service in the past,” said Rogers, CEO of Phoenix Rehab & Mobility in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Providers, however, don’t anticipate a windfall. While any Medicare-enrolled provider will be able to supply bid items under the provision, they’ll have to do it at rates that have been driven down by subsequent rounds of the program.

“We’re looking at it as an opportunity, but we we’re not looking at it as a source of profit,” Rogers said. “It’ll be more of a loss leader.”

Other providers who stopped or limited the amount of standard mobility products they offered when the bid program launched in 2011 don’t feel particularly motivated to jump back into the product category.

“They got it out of their system, so they’re shying away from it, even with the provision,” said Martin Szmal, owner/president of The Mobility Consultants.