Military precision: Barber DME at ease on base

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

FORT BELVOIR, Va. – As a U.S. Air Force veteran, provider Tim Barber knew the military could benefit from his HME business, even if it was a hard sell to the military itself.

“We met with a lot of resistance—it took three years to crack that door,” said Barber, president of Barber DME, which he founded in 2012 with a “civilian” location in Chantilly, Va. “They finally granted us an award and we opened at Fort Belvoir in April 2015.”

The store proved so successful that the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, which oversees on-base commercial enterprises like food services, the PX and chain restaurants, subsequently put out to bid a national contract.

In October, Barber DME won that contract, which initially calls for nine stores. The first will open in January at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, with the remaining eight slated to open by September.

“We will be operating on bases from Florida to Washington state, and the contract can grow as bases want to add locations,” he said.

Fort Belvoir is the one of the largest employers in Northern Virginia and one of the largest military hospitals in the country. Barber DME offers DME, enteral feeding, breast pumps, mastectomy items and compression garments to service members and their families, and military retirees. Mobility items like wheelchairs and knee walkers are among its best sellers.

“We serve people from all over Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C.,” said Barber, who primarily relies on Tricare, but accepts Medicare, as well. “Wherever there is military, they are coming to us.”

Like many payers, Tricare has lowered some reimbursements, which makes it challenging, says Barber.

“There are many items we provide where the reimbursement doesn’t cover the cost,” he said. “But our military members need the products and services we provide, and we're proud to serve those who serve us.”