How did the nationals fare in competitive bidding? Stay tuned...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

YARMOUTH, Maine - Boy, did we underestimate the maze that is competitive bidding. Little did we know last week just how difficult it would be to ferret out how many contracts national HME providers--Lincare, Apria, American HomePatient (AHP) and Rotech--accepted as part of national competitive bidding.

By tallying the total number of contracts accepted by the nationals using CMS's lists (Lincare 12; Apria 14; AHP 37, if you count American HomePatient Inc. & Subs; and Rotech 11), we didn't exactly get the full picture. Because some nationals likely bid using different names--the name of a company they acquired last year, for instance--they probably accepted more contracts than that.

Here's how Rotech CFO Steven Alsene put it: "The winning suppliers were listed by legal entity name not by corporate name." As such, Rotech accepted a total of 44 contracts, he said, not 11.

Lisa Getson, Apria's executive vice president of business development and clinical services, confirmed that the provider accepted 14 contracts (though it was offered more than that).

"Unlike our competitors, with rare exception, all Apria locations go by the name of Apria," she said.

Lincare officials declined to comment. Attempts to reach AHP officials were unsuccessful.

Conceivably, the nationals could have accepted a total of 364 contracts if they submitted and won bids in every product category in every MSA. That's 91 (nine product categories in nine MSAs plus 10 categories in one MSA) times four (the number of nationals).

At the very least, then, the nationals accepted 107 (12+14+37+44) out of 364 or 29% of possible contracts.

We do know that CMS offered 64% of its contracts to small providers, those with revenues of $3.5 million or less. But we don't know how many of those contracts were accepted. We've asked CMS to tell us how many total contracts were accepted and how many of those contracts were accepted by small providers.

If we know what percentage of contracts was accepted by small providers, we'll know, by deduction, the percentage won by nationals and larger independent providers.

No word from CMS yet. Stay tuned.