Florida HMEs derail competitive bidding -- again

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-- Florida providers have reason to celebrate, again. For the third time, provider efforts here have thwarted the state's attempt to establish competitive bidding for Medicaid.
An amendment introduced in April by Sen. Burt Saunders, also the legislature's healthcare appropriations chair, effectively killed proviso language in the budget that would have paved the way for competitive bidding of durable medical equipment items under Florida's Medicaid program.
"Basically we convinced the House and Senate that it was inappropriate language and that it should not be in the budget," said Javier Talamo, a Florida attorney and former DME provider. "We also convinced them that mandatory accreditation would actually be a better way of controlling fraud than competitive bidding would be."
The state was looking to cut 20% from its HME expenditures through competitive bidding, but Talamo and others argued that the cuts could be less drastic if the issue of fraud was addressed first. Florida estimates that 10% of its Medicaid costs stem from fraud.
A bill supporting mandatory accreditation for HME providers remains on the table as a means to target Medicaid's abusers. If that bill passes, starting Jan. 1, 2006, providers seeking to obtain or renew their state HME licenses would need to submit proof of accreditation from JCAHO, CHAP, ACHC or another national accreditation agency approved by the state.
"Some people have some concerns about the timeline and scope for accreditation, but no one is outright against the accreditation bill that I have heard of," said Talamo.