Competitive bidding takes center stage at 2007 HME Business Summit

Sunday, May 6, 2007

BOSTON -- With competitive bidding threatening the most significant overhaul ever in how providers conduct business, organizers of the HME Business Summit are putting the finishing touches on a program that, not surprisingly, keys on working inside the new parameters.

Scheduled for Sept. 9-11 at the Westin Boston Waterfront in Boston, Mass., the third annual summit opens its doors as HME providers across the country contemplate shutting down.

"There's no question that competitive bidding is going to close hundreds, probably thousands of HME supplier businesses," said Rick Rector, publisher of HME News. "Short of some Congressional mandate, there's nothing anybody can do about that. What we can do is provide crucial knowledge to business people. And maybe that knowledge will help spell the difference."

Here's a preview of this year's program.

-- HME News has filed Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain the reimbursement dollars paid by Medicare to suppliers in each of the top-10 MSAs, for the top products subject to competitive bidding. These figures won't help HME suppliers preparing bids today, but they'll provide a foundation for those readying bids in scores of additional MSAs next year.

"One of the big knocks again in the competitive bidding process," said HME News Editor Mike Moran, "is that no one knows how much business they're bidding on. With this kind of data, you'll have a handle on the potential volume."

Wallace Weeks, president of Melbourne, Fla.-based Weeks Group, will crunch the data for this presentation. He'll also lead a panel discussion on the second day of the conference with HME suppliers bidding in this first round of competitive bidding.

-- The conference will also introduce a new set of financial benchmarks for providers--the first fresh set of data on the subject (i.e. the payer mix of the typical HME) since AAHomecare stopped compiling the information some years ago. Tim Pontius, a former AAHomecare chair, now a managing director at Tarpon Springs, Fla.-based Steven Richards & Associates (SRA), will lead this session, using data now being gathered in a joint effort by HME News and SRA.

-- Belkis Alvarez, a Miami-based consultant at Advanced Consulting Concepts and Chris Parella, an attorney from the Law Offices of Anthony Vitale, will advise suppliers on a subject that's been at the heart of their work throughout 2007--developing competitive bidding networks structured to make bids and win Medicare contracts.

-- As a 'Summit,' a gathering of the industry's best and the brightest, the 2007 program will reprise its hugely successful workshop series, led by Dexter Braff, president of the Pittsburgh-Pa.-based Braff Group.

"There were more ideas germinating in those workshops, especially the last one, than I've seen at any conference in a long time," said Rector. "These workshops are and will remain staples at the Business Summit going forward."

-- Another hugely popular session in 2006 was consultant Tom Williams' exploration of the oxygen cap's consequences. In 2007, Williams will be back with new survey data on home oxygen therapy.

-- Also to be unveiled at this year's Summit: Perhaps the most comprehensive collection of oximetry ever data pulled together, in a session under development by Mickey Letson, president of Letco Medical.

"We founded these sessions on the delivery of data, on providing substance, not anecdote, and I expect that we'll deliver on that mission this year like never before," said Moran.

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