Ohio makes moves toward competitive bidding

Sunday, May 29, 2005

DUBLIN, Ohio -- HME suppliers across the state are hearing the rumblings from a second front in the war on competitive bidding. The state recently announced plans to begin an acquisition plan for durable medical equipment that involves "volume purchasing."

The proposal was hatched by an independent commission formed last year to examine ways in which the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services could cut costs from its $10 billion Medicaid program. In 2004, Ohio spent $164 million on durable medical equipment.

That commission was led by Bernadine Healy, a former president and CEO of the American Red Cross, who now sits on Invacare's board of directors.

The ODJFS is now working on an RFP for its volume purchasing initiative, according to Dennis Evans, a spokesman for the agency. There's no timetable yet for implementation.

Currently, Ohio acquires its eyeglasses through a volume purchasing contract. Evans couldn't detail the specifics of such a contract for DME. But the Ohio Association of Medical Equipment Services is sufficiently spooked by the nomenclature.

"There are no specifics as to what this would be, or could be or should be," said Kam Yuricich, executive director of OAMES. "We don't know if they want to go direct to manufacturers, or are you still including the providers, or do you know what items you are looking at. Are you looking at a few or all?"