Florida HMEs combat bidding with accreditation

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

ORLANDO, Fla. - The Florida Association of Medical Equipment Services (FAMES) is moving forward with a proposal that would require the state’s Medicaid HME providers to become accredited.

The new requirement would supersede Florida’s four-year-old licensure requirement, which has not served as an effective tool to combat fraud and abuse, according to Carl Wallman, president of Galaxy in Ft. Lauderdale.

The measure would act as a bulwark against the state legislature’s interest in the development of a competitive bidding plan for DME. The state’s budget calls for competitive bidding in FY 2004, but providers believe they can satisfy the state’s interest in changes to the DME benefit with a package of reforms that includes accreditation.

“The real reason [lawmakers] are doing this is because they can’t control fraud,” said Wallman. “They’ve told us that if we do this they’ll be supportive of measures not to do competitive bidding.”

The state’s DME lobby has been trying to stave off the advent of competitive bidding for two years. The legislature has rejected a proposal from the industry that would have resulted in across-the-board reductions to the fee schedule.

“When they turned that down, we realized that the true impetus for competitive bidding is not really a price savings,” said Wallman. “DME is just a drop in the bucket. What they are really trying to do is eliminate fraud.”