Oregon providers fight back

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

EUGENE, Ore. - Providers in September were lobbying the 20 members of an emergency board to repeal a nearly 17% reimbursement cut to home medical equipment and supplies.
Providers met with Sen. Jackie Winters, R-District 10, on Sept. 26. She recommended they write a letter detailing how access and service would be comprised due to the cut, said Tom Coogan, president of the Pacific Association for Medical Equipment Services (PAMES).
"She's come to our assistance in the past," said Coogan, director of government affairs and managed care relations for Care Medical & Rehabilitation Equipment in Portland, Ore.
Providers have been fighting back reimbursement cuts to HME for three years. Earlier this year, they worked with legislators to reduce the cut from 20%, as proposed in the governor's budget, to the current 17%.
The cut goes into effect Nov. 1, 2007. On that day, Medicaid will pay only about 83% of Medicare's allowables.
Because the state legislature adjourned June 28, and it convenes every two years, the emergency board allocates additional funds, when deemed necessary, in its absence, Coogan said.
In addition to lobbying members of the emergency board, providers were lobbying consumers and advocacy groups.
"Different providers in the state are putting info about the cut into the welcome packets they give patients," said Rick Wallaert, a PAMES board member and a territory manager for United Seating & Mobility.
While they continued to lobby, providers were evaluating whether they could continue providing HME to Medicaid recipients after Nov. 1.
"Especially for complex rehab, I don't think we would be able to provide power wheelchairs for many of the codes," Wallaert said. "Or we might be able to provide only one chair."