Incontinence cuts cause uproar
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The ink hasn't even dried on revised Medicaid regulations for incontinence supplies released March 7, but already providers say the state still isn't listening.
"They have not responded to any of the questions or problems we had during the hearing," said Ron Hale, president of the Alaska State Home Medical Equipment Providers Association.
The regulations, which went into effect Jan. 11, cut reimbursement rates and require prior authorization for all incontinence supplies, even inexpensive items like gloves. The state held a hearing Feb. 21 to address providers' concerns.
For several months now, providers have tried to make do with the new reimbursement rates.
"We are all looking for any kind of incontinence product that we can supply for those allowables," said Carol Sycks, president of ProCare Home Medical in Anchorage. "It has been a pretty tough search."
But providers have quickly discovered that cheaper products don't make anyone happy, said Pamela Denton, owner of Delta Medical Supply in Delta Junction.
"You're used to giving them a great liner and now, they reimburse 30 cents," she said. "I can't get anything for 30 cents."
Prior authorization is also causing headaches. Since Jan. 11, Frontier Medical in Anchorage has added four employees just to review documentation returned to the company from the state fiscal intermediary, First Health.
Ultimately, as providers drop incontinence lines or close up shop altogether, the new regulations could result in access problems for beneficiaries, especially in this largely rural state with few inland roads, providers said.
The state scheduled another hearing on this issue for March 29.