Minnesota Medicare woes continue

Thursday, August 25, 2011

ST. PAUL, Minn. - It's been quite a summer for HME providers in Minnesota. 

Due to a state budget crisis, they had to wait until July 1 for their June Medicaid payments. Soon after, they faced uncertainty about whether the state's legislature was cutting their Medicaid reimbursement by an additional 3% on top of a previous reduction of 3%.

During the past fiscal year, providers took a 3% cut from the state Legislature and a 1.5% cut from the governor. That cut expired June 30--the end of the fiscal year--but it was unclear whether the 3% cut also expired, said Rose Schafhauser, executive director of the Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services. 

Providers can probably bear the 3%, but a total cut of 6% could prove too much, she said.

"They've been living with that (3%) cut," said Schafhauser. "They've been surviving to this point. But there's some product classes that they barely break even."

However, Schafhauser remained hopeful that the original 3% cut was also set to expire, leaving providers in familiar territory. 

"There's obviously areas where it's still a hardship, but they've dealt with it. They know how to deal with it," she said. At press time, she was awaiting clarification from the Department of Human Services.