Binson's says: Bring it on

Thursday, October 28, 2010

CENTERLINE, Mich. - What really burns some HME providers in Texas about the state's proposal to competitively bid incontinence supplies? The idea may have come from one of their own.

Representatives for J&B Medical Supply and Binson's, two HME providers based in Michigan, met with state officials and recommended competitive bidding to them as a way to decrease costs and increase quality, several sources told HME News.

Attempts to reach J&B Medical Supply were unsuccessful, but Tracey Dettmer at the Centerline, Mich.-based Binson's says that, yes, the company not only responds to requests for proposals for competitive bidding contracts but also lobbies states to consider the idea.

"It's a newer initiative for us," said Dettmer, director of sales and marketing. "We have several people who are actively seeking out bids, for anything from a county to whole states."

Binson's is one of only three providers that provides incontinence, urological and ostomy supplies to Medicaid recipients in Indiana. The two others: J&B Medical Supply and Healthcare Products Delivery. It also has several smaller contracts in other states.

When asked whether she could understand why Binson's actions were making waves in Texas, Dettmer said it shouldn't matter how supplies get in the hands of customers.

"The most important thing is that customers are taken care of--efficiently and with the support they need," she said. "Then if the price is right, it's going to be the best option for everyone."

Providers in Indiana beg to differ.

"Actually, for them to lobby a state to change its regulations to favor them at the exclusion of others--I don't think that's in the patient's best interest," said Dave Anderson, owner of Anderson's Medical Products in Terre Haute, Ind. "I feel like community-based health care is where it's at. The community knows its people. They know when to provide service to Mrs. Smith or when to have her take some steps herself."

At the end of the day, though, providers in Indiana realize business is business.

"I'm not for it, because it knocks other providers out of the business, but it's a free economy," said Dante Philips, a director at St. John's Medical Supplies in Anderson, Ind., and a member of the board of directors of the Association of Indiana Home Medical Equipment Services. "No one can say, 'Don't do that,' but I wish they wouldn't."

Binson's has no plans to stop. Contracts with states to provide supplies is just another step toward the company becoming more of a national player, Dettmer says.

"Binson's has been in business for 58 years," she said. "Because the industry hasn't stayed the same, we've had to bend with all the new programs that have come out and sort of pave our own way. We want to continue to not only thrive but also be a leading company."