Competitive bidding off the table for Texas incontinence supplies

Thursday, June 23, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas - When Texas Medicaid started to look at competitive bidding as a way to save money and curb fraud, providers rallied and found another solution. 

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and the state's Health and Human Services Commission reversed their decision to competitively bid incontinence supplies on May 23.

Key factors in that decision were access to care and job loss, said Liz Moran, executive director of the Medical Equipment Suppliers Association (MESA).

"There are so many rural areas in Texas that would be under- or un-served and they recognized it was a real cause for concern," said Moran. "We're all in this business to serve patients, and if you're not taking care of patients, something's wrong." 

MESA presented state officials with an alternative plan that included surety bonds, accreditation and background checks for providers as ways to curb fraud. The association also proposed reducing product quantities to save money. 

"We heard that patients were stockpiling supplies because they get the maximum quantity each month and they don't use them," said Moran. "Or they're selling them or giving them away. We thought that was pretty wasteful." 

The state reduced the maximum allowed products by 20%. 

Other cost-saving suggestions still under consideration include allowing providers to ship a 90-day supply to save on shipping and delivery, and reduce documentation and paperwork requirements. Those savings would be passed onto the state. 

James DuBose, owner and president of J&R Medical in Bellaire, said he was concerned about how customers would fare under competitive bidding. He said his company has hand-delivered products in emergencies, and feared that personal touch would be lost.

"The personal relationships we have with our patients contributes to a lot of our success," said DuBose. "When people call J&R, they get me, the president, or Angela, our vice president."