Is industry in buying slump? It’s tough call

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Friday, November 16, 2018

YARMOUTH, Maine – HME providers aren’t necessarily holding off on equipment purchases in the months leading up to Medicare’s any willing provider provision going into effect, according to a recent HME Newspoll.

A slight majority of poll respondents (58%) say they’re still buying, despite an uncertain Medicare landscape starting Jan. 1, when CMS plans to let its competitive bidding contracts expire and let all enrolled providers supply DMEPOS.

“We don’t base our decisions on the whims of the federal government,” wrote one respondent who’s still buying.

Invacare recently blamed a decrease in sales for the third quarter, in part, on providers holding off on equipment purchases until they reassess the market in 2019.

One respondent is still buying so they’re ready for the potential increased business that an any willing provider provision may bring.

“When you are a new startup, you need to be on the offensive,” wrote one respondent. “The rates are not great, but with a good selection of types of equipment, we should be fine.”

For a number of respondents, they’re buying, but cautiously.

“We continue to acquire equipment in line with our needs by location,” wrote one respondent. “We regularly monitor inventory levels and only keep a limited amount of inventory on hand, so we don’t get caught in a downturn.”

Other respondents say they’ve held off buying for certain product categories like “bent metal,” while others have held off completely.

“Due to the new developments, we’ve reduced all purchasing until the new year,” wrote one respondent.

Invacare believes buying will be back on track sometime in the first quarter, a prediction that’s in line with the poll results. For those respondents who are holding off, the largest majority (48%) plans to resume buying sometime in March-April.

“We’re just unsure how to proceed right now,” wrote one respondent. “The rates are so low.”