'Just working harder at it'

Friday, February 29, 2008

With a whole year gone by of not collecting 14th or 15th month rental payments from Medicare for certain home medical equipment, some providers report taking a hit.
Provider Ed Gould estimates that he's lost about $30,000 in revenue per month due to the 13-month cap on equipment like hospital beds and wheelchairs. Luckily, he's made up for it by pushing more rental equipment out his door, he said.
"We advertise 365 days a year, and we're getting by by doing more business," said Gould, president of Gould's Discount Medical in Louisville, Ky. "We're just working harder at it."
Medicare implemented the cap on rental payments for certain DME on Jan. 1, 2006. Providers didn't start feeling the pain until Feb. 1, 2007, when their payments began to stop and they had to transfer ownership of equipment to beneficiaries.
Provider Ary Van Harlingen's revenue from rental equipment has dropped about 12% due to the cap, but like other providers, he's been able to offset his losses.
"It's had an impact, no doubt about that, but we've been able to look at other payers like skilled nursing facilities and more high-tech equipment like ventilators," said Van Harlingen, president of Shaw & Ott Medical Supplies in Mansfield, Ohio.
Provider Dan DeSimone has embraced technology to offset losses in revenue due to the cap.
"We've been able to do more at a lower cost by going paperless," said DeSimone, CEO of Continued Care of Long Island in Farmingdale, N.Y. "That has helped to sustain our growth."
Providers didn't grumble about servicing equipment after 13 months. Continued Care does it free of charge, DeSimone said.
"It's the only way we can compete without being just another provider," he said.