NewsPoll: Beneficiaries experiencing access issues

‘How is this acceptable?’
Friday, November 21, 2014

YARMOUTH, Maine – Nearly two years after the implementation of Round 2 of competitive bidding, and with the Round 1 recompete well under way, a whopping 95% of HME providers report they are still seeing beneficiary access issues.

“Calls stream in every day from beneficiaries who can’t find necessary medical equipment or diabetic supplies,” said one provider. “They are elderly people who have not been informed. Shame on our government.”

And it seems like things are getting worse, not better, say 95% of poll respondents, who report problems have increased in the past year. The two biggest issues are lack of access to equipment (43%), and delays in obtaining equipment (42%).

“Contract suppliers are taking forever to deliver equipment,” said one provider. “Discharge planners/referral sources are frustrated because they no longer have one-stop shopping for DME and coordination of equipment delivery is difficult with multiple providers.”

Although only 8% of providers report hearing of poor quality equipment or service, for the beneficiaries, that has a huge impact, they say.

“I had a long-time patient that recently needed a customized K4 and called almost every winning bidder in her area to no avail,” said Lori Sears, owner of Active Home Medical in Lapeer, Mich. “The only way for her to get a professional evaluation was to drive three hours. How is that acceptable?”

It’s not just the bidding program itself impeding access, counters a contract supplier. Getting the proper documentation from physicians continues to be a struggle.

“We receive, at times, over 100 new orders each day,” said Susan Kelly CEO of MetroCare home Medical. “Very few of those orders come across with proper documentation, despite our extensive efforts to educate the physicians and the referral sources.”

Unsurprisingly, beneficiaries accounted for 66% of the complaints providers are hearing. Non-contract suppliers express frustration at being unable to help them.

“We are hearing from beneficiaries and discharge planners who ask, ‘When will you be able to take care of us again?’” said Sam Clay, president of Clay Home Medical in Petersburg, Va. “The bid winners provide such terrible and slow service or don’t respond to phone calls at all. They are very disgusted with the whole process.”