Florida HMEs score major victory in competitive bidding fight

Friday, February 28, 2003

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Association of Medical Equipment Suppliers in January won its lawsuit to stave off Medicaid competitive bidding, and now hopes to play a bigger role in crafting a future Medicaid cut.

“It’s good news,” said Joan Cross, FAMES president. “We won our case. We are starting at ground zero, and at least we don’t have competitive bidding.”

In a settlement between FAMES and the Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA), the state withdrew its competitive bidding request for proposal (RFP) and reimbursed FAMES $45,000 (the group spent $145,000) for legal expenses.

AHCA must now start over its efforts to cut costs, and while it can use competitive bidding, other options must be considered.

To help close its budget gap, Florida lawmakers last year mandated that Medicaid trim its annual budget by $1.7 million. Industry watchers suspect that target has grown but don’t know by how much.

FAMES opposes any form of competitive bidding, maintaining it will adversely affect small businesses and patient access to new technology.

“We’ll do our share to help the state through its fiscal crisis and will send in our recommendations,” Cross said. “A fee reduction is a possibility, but once the budget improves we hope we can get our fees back.”

Last year, as an alternative to competitive bidding, FAMES suggest a 4% cut in the fee schedule.

The state’s existing fee schedule will continue until a new cost-cutting strategy is developed. HME