Letters to the editor
'WE ALL NEED TO REMAIN VIGILANT'
Stop the ranting" (HME News, July 2006) made me think, "Yeah, there may be some jealousy going on, but there's sure a lot of fraud, stealing and cheating, too." Recent settlements and pending investigations beg these questions of each provider: Are you reporting irregularities and suspicions to the proper authorities; and are you checking your own operations to make sure temptation isn't getting the best of you and some of your people? No doubt the biggest irony is that Washington is overseeing HME dealers. Kinda "the pot and kettle" thing. Regardless, we all need to remain vigilant in our conduct, checks and balances. When you're forced to constantly focus on the numbers, it's natural to want to do anything (and perhaps, everything) to make them better. That can easily include "looking the other way" or "rationalizing something." A man's character is often judged by his consistency of conduct in both good times and not-so-good times. Who said that? I just made it up.
- Vince Crew, founder, REACH Development Services, Naples, Fla.
EXPENSE OR INVESTMENT?
There is a big difference between an investment and an expense. To protect the future of your DME company and our industry, this will happen when you make the correct investment. An investment simply means putting your money to use for a profitable return. When your capital is going to both help you protect your business and bring you in contact with peers, then it has been invested properly. I do not have to tell you about the multitude of oppressive and troublesome regulations hanging over your head. So your investment must help protect you against all these onerous provisions. Where can you turn? Your company must belong to AAHomecare. They are your voice in Washington and with the complete support of every DME/HME dealer, they will succeed. Without that investment, I am concerned. So the annual cost of membership will not only help you maintain a steady ship in troubled waters, but this investment will also ensure your future. This investment is not an expense at all, is it?
- Shelly Prial, director of government affairs, Graham-Field
WHY DOES THE GOVERNMENT LET THEM DO IT OVER AND OVER AGAIN?
I am a small provider and have been involved in the DME industry since 1992. Lincare and other national companies make the news every couple of years, paying unbelievable fines that would put the rest of us out of business. Your editorial--"Stop the ranting," HME News, July 2006--is correct in advising that we not bash each other, and that we report unethical behavior to the proper authorities. On the other hand, I take exception with the sugar coating of Lincare's recent fine. I would not call the government's involvement overly aggressive. They know that they can hit them for big fines whenever the treasury gets low and that they would never get that kind of money from us. So the question is, why do they let them do it over and over again? Because they can keep getting big revenues and headlines to show that they are doing their job. They can come in and secretly charge us; try us without notifying us; convict us without representation; take over our bank account if we were stupid enough to sign up for e-checks; and take our provider number because there is no "due process" in the law that created and sustains Medicare's existence. If you want to investigate and make a mark in the industry, look for companies like ours that have managed to survive a "friendly" visit from Medicare. We were lucky; many more were not.
- Emile Di Motta, Med-Services Network, Lakeland, Fla.
TELL BENNIES, DOCS: DON'T GET SPOOKED BY CALLS FROM FEDS
The Benefit Integrity Units ("BIUs") of the MACs (formerly the DMERCs) have the right to communicate with physicians and beneficiaries. Over the last couple of years, it has become increasingly common for the BIUs to talk to physicians and patients before the HME supplier is notified that an investigation/audit is under way. Too often, the practical effect is to frighten the beneficiary and spook the physician. We preach to our clients that it is important for them to educate their beneficiaries and referring physicians that they will likely be contacted by the "government." The message that the supplier needs to give to the beneficiary is that the supplier supports this type of communication because the supplier desires to work cooperatively with the government to protect the Medicare system. The message that the supplier needs to give to the referring physician is that such communication is standard procedure for the "government" to use to ensure that fraud is not occurring. These preventative measures should inoculate the beneficiaries and physicians against getting spooked when they're contacted by the MAC.
- Jeff Baird, healthcare attorney, Brown & Fortunato, Amarillo, Texas