Hawaii: CMS makes bid concessions

New contracts are step in right direction, say stakeholders
Friday, May 23, 2014

HONOLULU – With patients waiting weeks or months for equipment, Hawaiian healthcare providers have convinced CMS to award two additional competitive bidding contracts to island-based HME providers.

Just 13 of 97 contracts awarded in the Honolulu CBA in Round 2 of the program went to local providers. With no same day or overnight delivery options, mainland suppliers can’t get equipment or parts to Hawaii faster than two to four days, and beneficiaries on the island wait an average of four to eight weeks for hospital beds or wheelchairs. 

“This resulted in patients being left in beds when they were ready to go home,” said George Greene, president of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii (HAH). “Hospitals actually spent operational funds to pay for the equipment these patients needed because they needed the beds and patients no longer needed to be in those beds.”

Hospitals have also had to loan their own equipment to Medicare beneficiaries just to get them discharged.

Complicating matters: The one-size-fits-all bidding program just doesn’t work in Hawaii, where the cost of business is higher, said Greene. That not only put local providers at a disadvantage during the bidding phase, but also meant that contract suppliers couldn’t find subcontractors.

It’s having a ripple effect, with many local providers shutting their doors.

“These are small shops, mom-and-pop shops with local employees working for them,” said Greene. “It’s not lucrative in any way, shape or form from my perspective. They do it because they’re invested in helping the healthcare community take care of patients.”

The two additional local contracts aren’t enough to change the landscape in Hawaii, said Greene, but they’re a step in the right direction.

“We hope that, as we continue to dialogue with them and as we don’t see the impact of competitive bidding being mitigated by those two additional awards, that they will award more,” he said.