Medicaid rethinks bidding for supplies

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

COLUMBUS, Ohio--Soon after an Aug. 12 public hearing about competitively bidding incontinence supplies, Ohio’s Medicaid program decided to go back to the drawing board.

“It was literally hours after the hearing,” said Joe Petrolla, president of Andover, Ohio-based Seeley Medical. “We’re wondering if they just wanted to see what kind of arguments we were going to make.”

At the hearing, stakeholders like the Ohio Association of Medical Equipment Services (OAMES) argued competitive bidding isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In her testimony, Kam Yuricich, the association’s executive director, pointed out that Medicare failed to implement competitive bidding in July.

Providers realize that they’d be fooling themselves, however, if they thought the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services (ODJFS) was washing its hands of competitive bidding for good. After the hearing, ODJFS merely changed the status of its rule to competitively bid incontinence supplies to “to be refiled.”

“We’re not sure what that means,” said Missy Cross, business manager for the Sandusky, Ohio-based OE Meyer Healthcare, which relies on incontinence supplies for about 4% of its business. “Does that mean two months from now? Or two years?”

In her testimony, Cross said that competitively bidding incontinence supplies would hurt providers and patients.

“If they picked one provider for incontinence supplies, it would have a drastic impact on the local economy,” said Cross, president of OAMES. “Not that Medicaid should supplement the economy, but we need enough providers around to take care of patients.”