NewsPoll: Revenues drop for some, not all

Sunday, May 31, 2009

You can’t blame providers these days for feeling a little dour and uncertain about the future. The economy stinks and Medicare continues to cut reimbursement and pursue national competitive bidding.

But while the majority of the 242 providers who participated in a recent HME News poll reported that they expect their 2009 revenues to decrease (64%), a fair number  projected theirs to increase (25%) or stay the same (11%). These optimists also expressed a high level of confidence in their ability to survive and thrive.

“We have had a robust increase in sales over the last five months, and I don’t expect that to change,” said Bill Stelzer, general manager of Green Bay Home Medical Equipment in Green Bay, Wis. “Let’s get rid of the doom and gloom and embrace the bright future.”

Provider Jim Greatorex seconded that.

“I think many suppliers who are paralyzed by fear with the cuts and increased regulation will cut back or leave the business, leaving much new opportunity for those able to model their business to survive and thrive,” said the president of Black Bear Medical in Portland, Maine.

Ron Reed, CEO of Benchmark Mobility in Indianapolis, said the “strong get stronger and the weak blame the economy.”

“The baby boomers are continuing to grow my business with cash sales and alternative revenue streams,” he said.

Another provider described himself as “cautiously optimistic” about 2009.

“We are aggressively working to diversify our revenue base,” he said. “Four years ago, Medicare was 45% of our revenue base. In 2007, it was 23%, and in 2008 it was down to 14%. We have maintained our Medicare revenue over the years but grown in other areas.”

But for every poll respondent who expects his revenue to grow in 2009, more than twice as many echoed Michelle Whittle’s anguished response: “God help us all!!!”

“The economy and DME cutbacks, accreditation and the oxygen cap is going to sink a lot of small DMEs,” wrote Dianne Bastow, president of Life-Line Medical Equipment in Leesville, La. “It’s too much. We need help.”