Blum remains unconvinced of problems

Friday, June 22, 2012

POTOSI, Mo. – Providers here put Jonathan Blum on the defensive in May, but the deputy administrator and director of CMS stands behind the flawed competitive bidding program, they say.

“He made it very clear to all of us that he feels competitive bidding is a great thing and it’s doing what it’s supposed to do: Patients are getting what they need and providers aren’t getting hurt,” said Patrick Naeger, executive vice president of Perryville, Mo.-based Healthcare Equipment & Supply Co.

Blum attended a town hall-style meeting on May 21 with Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., at the Washington County Memorial Hospital in Potosi, Mo. HME 

providers, clinicians and other medical 

professionals also attended.

Round 2 of competitive bidding includes Washington County, a rural area with 33 people per square mile. By comparison, St. Louis County has 1,600 people per square mile. 

The overall message: Patients need local, immediate care. If providers in rural areas impacted by competitive bidding don’t win contracts, it will be up to contract winners in populated areas to serve them. That’s not practical, they say.

“If it’s a provider coming out of St. Louis we know (the patient will) have to wait at least an hour and a half,” said Dave Hossman, director of HME for St. Louis-based BJC Home Medical Equipment. “And for the providers, the cost of delivery and cost of providing services in Washington County is going to be much higher than it is in the St. Louis metro area.”