HME stops providing wheelchairs

Saturday, September 30, 2006

PORTLAND, Maine - With unpaid claims creeping toward the half million dollar mark, Black Bear Medical has stopped providing wheelchairs to Maine's Medicaid beneficiaries. And if the state doesn't change its way, other providers may follow suit.
"Until this is fixed, we're having to hold orders," said Black Bear President Jim Greatorex. "We've been over $400,000 for over 60 days."
The problems began in November 2004, when MaineCare installed a new computer system. Since then, glitches have held up payments to providers. In May, the New England Medical Equipment Dealers association, of which Greatorex is president, sent letters to the governor and the commissioner of Maine's Department of Health and Human Services seeking to address the problems, to little avail.
"They've told us twice it's been fixed, and we've released orders twice," said Greatorex.
In July, employees of South Portland-based Alpha One Medical met with MaineCare to discuss $100,000 worth of overdue claims. Dennis Fitzgibbons, executive director of Alpha One, said the claims passed muster with officials and he was told they would be paid, but so far, that hasn't happened. The company has not had to stop providing equipment--yet.
"We're keeping our fingers crossed, but we can't do it much longer," said Fitzgibbons, who estimates the company now has $150,000 in claims more than 120 days old. "It's an untenable position."