FAMES protests competitive bid for supplies

Sunday, April 23, 2006

ORLANDO, Fla. - The Florida Association of Medical Equipment Suppliers (FAMES) filed three petitions with the state Friday to protest a Medicaid proposal seeking competitive bids for ostomy and incontinence products.

In December, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration issued a request for proposal that required a sole provider to supply the products at 80% of current reimbursement levels. The winning bid was expected to be unsealed today.

"It's crazy what they're trying to do and what kind of pricing they expect somebody to offer," said Patti Langenbach, president of Medical Care Products in Jacksonville. "With the kind of monies they're paying, quality is going to be an issue."

The proposal also requires the contract winner to be accredited and have a home medical equipment license in Florida, even though current state law does not require businesses that sell only those products to be licensed.

Once awarded, the contract winner would have 28 days to begin servicing an estimated 30,000 patients. An RN review of each case is required within 72 hours of receipt, with a 24-turnaround on delivery to patients after that.

Combined with the already narrow margin for urological supplies, the contract requirements could place too great a burden on the winner, said Lopez. That could spell trouble for everyone. A clause in the contract allows the winning provider to end the contract with 30-days notice but makes no provisions for what would happen after that.

"They have nothing in place to put the next bid winner in," said Raul Lopez, president of FAMES. "[Are they] going to stop providing services all together?"

The contractor winner was originally expected to be announced April 17.