Medtrade seminars reflect new urgency

Sunday, February 27, 2011

LAS VEGAS -Medtrade Spring organizers have adjusted the direction of this year's seminars to help HME providers navigate the labyrinth of a post-competitive bidding world.

The 80 sessions, set for April 12-14 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, will feature new competitive bidding, audit and retail sales tracks to give conference attendees a sense of what to expect in the new environment and their commercial options going forward, conference planners say.

Alan Morris, regulatory analyst for Waterloo, Iowa-based The VGM Group and a Medtrade speaker, isn't convinced that competitive bidding is here to stay, but he says the conference is designed to give providers some guidance in the meantime.

"There's going to be a very strong message that it's time to move away from Medicare," Morris said. "You'll hear lots of great thoughts on how companies can diversify their business to soften the blow."

Given the strong efforts to overturn competitive bidding, no one is conceding its permanence at this point, added Collette Weil, owner of Mill Valley, Calif.-based Summit Marketing and a member of Medtrade's Educational Advisory Board.

"However, the reality is that we are in a Round 1 rebid in the metros and Round 2 moves ahead for bid submission," she said. "The Medtrade educational programs will provide information about the bidding process--those that lost, those that won, bidding guidelines and much more. Once again, our goal is to offer education that assists providers in their business strategies and direction."

A panel of HME "peers" will discuss how contract suppliers and non-contract suppliers are coping with the program, while other sessions will cover contracting rights and responsibilities, mitigating business loss through subcontracting and grandfathering, and new payment policies. Moreover, a new "hands-on" pre-conference workshop on Tuesday, April 12, will deal specifically with preparation efforts for Round 2.

While the conference includes plenty of sessions dedicated to the status of competitive bidding and the fight to derail it, other sessions will concentrate on how providers can adopt alternative revenue sources, such as retail and home modification programs.

"Remember, there are nearly 7,600 baby boomers turning 65 every day for many years to come and HME providers will figure out how to best serve this cash-paying population," said Mark Higley, VGM's vice president of development and a Medtrade speaker. "It's a paradigm shift, but it will be very lucrative."