Medicaid adopts 9.5% cut

Saturday, February 28, 2009

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Following in Medicare’s footsteps, Washington Medicaid recently adopted a 9.5% reimbursement cut for the 10 product categories included in Round 1 of national competitive bidding.

“We’re appealing to our legislators and getting our members and patients involved to find a solution,” said Tom Coogan, immediate past president of the Pacific Association for Medical Equipment Services (PAMES).

In July 2008, Congress delayed competitive bidding in exchange for the cut. Medicare and the Washington State Department of Social & Health Services both implemented the cut on Jan. 1.

The complex rehab industry has been particularly vocal about the affects of the Medicare cut on patient access to equipment and services. A Medicaid cut on top of that will make it nearly impossible for rehab providers to supply patients with the equipment and services they need, said Coogan.

“When you’re showing an overall profit of 1.6%, a 9.5% cut is certainly going to impede patients’ access to quality rehab equipment because providers can’t pencil a profit,” he said.

Fortunately, says provider Trish Couch, PAMES has a good relationship with state Medicaid officials.

“At least Medicaid’s listening to us,” said Couch, a member of the PAMES board and the rehab manager for Mount Vernon-based Holland RST. “Whether they’ll change anything or can change anything - I don’t know.”