Dozens of Florida HMEs opt out of Medicare, group reports

Sunday, September 13, 2009

MIAMI - The number of oxygen providers in South Florida has declined by nearly 30% since March 2008, according to the Accredited Medical Equipment Providers of America (AMEPA) and the Florida Alliance of Home Care Services (FAHCS).

Competitive bid area Miami-Dade County saw the most significant drop--from 401 providers to 279 since March 2008.

FAHCS Executive Director Sean Schwinghammer recently cross-checked the remaining providers against a published list of accredited providers and found more than 80 companies in the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties that had not yet become accredited. Most told Schwinghammer they plan to stop billing Medicare, while others have closed or plan to do so, he said.

One such provider, Rob Snyder, owner of Hollywood-based O2 Etc, resigned from the Medicare program in early August, after determining that accreditation would cost him about $20,000. He plans to close his doors, laying off six employees.

In an open letter to President Obama, U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators, he wrote: "After eight years of serving patients in my area, I feel compelled, for their safety, to ask that you please consider the large reduction of providers along with the reduction of reimbursement and cuts to the oxygen program before reopening the competitive bidding program."