Sunday, November 30, 2003

Competitive bidding and the VA
with Bob Rudowski

Q. Why does NCB keep coming up?

A. Conversations with members of the U.S. Congress and Senate have revealed the real issue: Medicare spending for DME is often compared to spending by the Veterans Administration for like products. Unfortunately, in the bulk of these comparisons, equipment provided to Medicare beneficiaries costs CMS more than the same products provided as a VA benefit. The question the industry needs to focus on is not “why NCB won’t work,” but rather why does the same product cost more when provided as a Medicare benefit than a VA benefit? There really is no comparison between the services provided every day by HME suppliers to that of the “drop and run” VA benefit. The VA beneficiary, in general, receives a “box on the porch” program. Most pieces of medical equipment require difficult assembly and in depth user training. The VA does not typically provide these vital services. The time and effort necessary to provide this additional care costs a significant amount of money. Accordingly, we as an industry need to focus our efforts on educating the people in congress and at CMS that we are “providers of service and care,” not just suppliers of a commodity. Our industry depends on our successfully re-educating the policy makers that the care is the real value DME providers bring to Medicare beneficiaries and that the VA recipients deserve better care, even if it costs more.

Bob Rudowski is director of marketing for a home healthcare company in the Midwest. Reach him at (586) 489 1193.