Florida network forms to tackle NCB

Sunday, December 31, 2006

TAMPA, Fla. - A group of 35 home medical equipment providers in and around Tampa have created a network to take advantage of buying power and other economies of scale intended to help them survive and thrive.

Med Trust Tampa Bay is a direct, but separate, offshoot of Med Trust Corp. of South Florida, which was developed in Miami early last year. Approximately 90 HME providers belong to the Miami organization, said Javier Talamo, who spearheaded that group.

Med Trust members plan to submit bids for national competitive bidding as a network. CMS plans to kick off competitive bidding some time this year.

Additionally, by helping members get accredited and enforcing a strict standard of conduct, Med Trust aims to ensure compliance with all state and federal requirements, said Robert M. Arado, owner of CareMed Respiratory Services in Tampa, the force behind the new group.

"I've been in this business for 37 years and over the last 20 years, Florida has had a bum rap: a few (bad apples) have labeled the whole industry in Florida as a questionable industry," he said. "This is an excellent opportunity for us to clean this up. We are going to be very strict in who we accept in to the network."

In addition to the Tampa- and Miami-based Med Trust groups, Arado has plans to start up similar networks in Orlando and Jacksonville.

"We will be able to go into insurance companies and say, 'We are a member of Med Trust and have statewide coverage,'" he said. "We have an opportunity to compete with large companies."