Iowa: Providers to state: Let's talk

Monday, May 24, 2010

DES MOINES, Iowa - Providers here met with state Medical officials in April to discuss ways they can work together to address a state budget shortfall.

"We're trying to convince them to create an advisory council," said Terry Flatt, Iowa state chairman for the Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services (MAMES) and executive vice president of Hammer Medical Supply in Des Moines. "They were lukewarm initially, but they are getting (used) to the idea."

Those issues include a proposal to competitively bid HME and supplies. While a report released in December stated that such a plan could save $4.1 million over five years, providers learned at the April meeting that the state now needs to come up with $1.5 million per year over the next five years, said Flatt.

"They keyed on two areas where they think we need to make some significant cuts--respiratory and incontinence," he said.

But, with a recent across-the-board cut of 5%, it will be a challenge to find further savings without impeding access for patients, said Flatt.

"You are (targeting) the things that require ongoing service and maintenance and patients that are most in need (of services)," he said. "We want to work with them on cost savings that have the least amount of impact to beneficiaries."