Complex rehab, retail can't fill Round 2 gap

Friday, March 22, 2013

YARMOUTH, Maine – Extensive cuts in Round 2 of competitive bidding have mobility providers looking for a Plan B.

“Once the competitive bidding single payment amounts were announced, we knew we wouldn’t be able to participate in the program,” said Patrick Mahncke, owner of Denver-based USA Mobility. “I didn’t anticipate them to be anywhere near that level.”

Single payment amounts announced Jan. 30 included an overall average reimbursement cut of 36% for the standard wheelchair product category. Popular products like K0823 sustained cuts of nearly 50%, on average.

Mahncke is now expanding his company’s current complex rehab offerings, but he knows that won’t offset all his losses.

“There will certainly be cuts—there will be a change in focus and a change in resources,” said Mahncke. “There will be some employment reduction and space reduction.”

Cuts are also in store for MedEquip, which has already downsized from five St. Louis locations to two. The provider plans to focus its efforts on complex rehab and on complementary cash items, like stair lifts and vehicle lifts. Joe Neels says he doesn’t expect complex rehab to be a safe haven for long, though.

“My fear is that another shoe is going to drop and they’ll come down on the prices in complex rehab,” said Neels, an RTS. 

Even mobility providers currently outside of competitive bidding’s range are concentrating on other sources of income. Med City Mobility in Rochester, Minn., has hired a second ATP to beef up its complex rehab program in anticipation of competitive bidding rates being applied across the board. 

Another big concern behind the effort: More payers might follow Medicare’s lead.

“Our greatest concern is that state Medicaids are going see those rates and think they’re reasonable and sustainable,” said Andrea Madsen, rehab technology manager for Med City Mobility. “That would be devastating to all providers.”