Providers to Agape Medical: 'We're not going away'

Friday, April 20, 2012

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Hell hath no fury like HME providers who claim Agape Medical failed to submit their bids on time for Round 2 of competitive bidding.

Providers are sharing their experiences and concerns with the CBIC and CMS, lawmakers, state attorneys general, and local newspapers, all in an effort to get the bid window re-opened.

Many of them also participated in a conference call on Friday.

"We're not going away," said Tina Jaspan, owner of Jaspan Medical in Jackson, Tenn.

The charges that these providers have levied against Agape Medical range from lack of communication (providers claim it took numerous phone calls and emails to get a response from the company, if they got one at all) to breach of contract (providers claim they went into DBidS in the last days of bidding, only to find out that the company had entered none or only some of their information).

One thing these providers aren't doing, at least for now: filing a lawsuit. That's because doing so would be expensive and it wouldn't give them their bids back.

"(One provider) concluded that it did not want to 'throw good money after bad,'" says Jeff Baird, chairman of the Health Care Group at Brown & Fortunato, who has heard from 17 providers who claim their bids were affected by Agape Medical.

The law firm representing Agape Medical is investigating two groups of bids that weren't submitted on time: about 100 or so bids without financial documentation or with untimely receipt of financial documentation; and bids that were incomplete. In regard to the former, the firm has supplied the CBIC with a letter from the U.S. Postal Service confirming the delays in deliveries and is waiting to hear back.

For the latter, the firm, which has reached out to about 150 providers, says it has uncovered only cases where the provider failed to submit information to Agape Medical on time.

"We haven't found a case where Agape Medical, in our opinion, has done anything incorrect in terms of processing bids," said Joseph Benincasa, an attorney with Kaplan, Kenegos & Kadin.

Even if the non-receipt or delayed receipt of financial documentation to the CBIC is resolved in some way, providers won't be satisfied, says Mark Higley, vice president of development for The VGM Group.

"We heard from one provider that, instead of sending a three- to four-page extract of their tax return, Agape sent all 120 pages," he said. "My point is, even if the bid did get in on time, it doesn't seem like they followed the basic rules of the program, (which hurts the provider's chance of being awarded a contract)."

While their ultimate goal is to get the CBIC and CMS to re-open the bid window, providers realize that's a tall order. CMS confirmed that in an email to HME News.

"CMS is aware that there have been some complaints from suppliers that hired this consulting company," a spokeswoman wrote. "CMS is not a related party in any disputes that suppliers may have with this company or any other company a supplier may have engaged for assistance with bidding and is therefore unable to comment. However, we note that it is each supplier's responsibility to submit a timely bid. Based on our preliminary review of timely bids, we are pleased with the supplier response and have no plans to reopen bidding."



A-Z Medical Supply


AGAPE Complaint letter


            My company is called A-Z Medical Supply. We are located in Arlington Heights, IL. We have been working with AGAPE since 2008. AGAPE is a company that helps and provides support for DMEPOS (Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies) suppliers with competitive bidding for MEDICARE. AGAPE completely let us down in terms of support and help. A couple of days before the bidding calculators were due, we tried contacting AGAPE but seldom did anyone pick up the phone.  As a result we did not make it into round two of the competitive bidding, thus losing a good chunk of Medicare Business. We contracted with Agape Medical at a price of $21,500 to oversee the bid process for us. That meant, among other things, collecting the required information and entering it into DBids, the online bid system; gathering and submitting the appropriate financial documents; and supplying tools to help us come up with bids, like bid calculators. For those providers, who were anxious about the process or who didn’t have the time to commit to the process, it was a relief to hand over their information and let Agape Medical take over. We were in the middle of an IRS audit, which was a long and tedious process. Every year was analyzed backdating to 2008. We struggled to keep up with the audit and run a business simultaneously and thus receiving help from AGAPE was encouraging. Not too long before everything was due, we discovered a line of incomplete entries in the afternoon, we still hesitated to go in and do the entries ourselves. We did not want to sign in to the system, and potentially block them and ruin their work. With a half hour to go we got into the system and still nothing was entered. Time ran out but we still continued to try and do something. When we tried to push save, it said ‘out of time’ thus going through as incomplete. We tried to reach the consultants numerous amount of times through phone calls and e-mails etc… They just disappeared and were nowhere to be found. Apparently many other companies have also faced the wrath of AGAPE; there have been many complaints about AGAPE not submitting others into the round two of competitive bidding. After some scrutiny we have came upon interesting news that our case, is a little different. There is another company in this area that has a similar name to us; they are called A2Z Medical Supply. AGAPE has sent them my bidding calculator for them to submit. All of our prices, information, and efforts went to the wrong DME Supply. This represents how unorganized AGAPE can be.  AGAPE claims, "Our initial review indicates...all clients who timely provided Agape with the required information had their bids timely received by Medicare," stated Jerry Kaplan, an attorney representing Agape Medical, in an April 5 letter. We however did submit everything in a timely fashion. In the end we did not make it into round two of competitive bidding. There must be some sort of breach of confidentiality or breach of contract in this matter. They were not allowed to give another company all of our information. This is not fair and justice must be served!

Our story is the same as others -- everything done on time, all well-documented and no bids entered by Agape.

I am very interested in learning what is being done, if anyone knows, to aggregate these suppliers and their complaints. It seems that our only hope lies in our numbers; Contacts to CBIC are fine, but they remain confidential -- We need a public, centralized location where we can see who we are, what is the real scope of this problem --  and where we might communicate and gain some leverage. Could we use a Facebook page?

In addition to CBIC and CMS, we have talked with the California Attorney General's office, A U.S. Senator (Franken, D-Minnesota) and the law firm suggested by VGM (Todd Moody, with  Brown  &  Fortunato), but, so far, we have not talked to another supplier, nor do we know who they are.

If anyone has information on any consolidation / centralization of this issue I would greatly appreciate hearing from you (

if anyone wants to file a class action lawsuit please let me know I am in!

Tom 303-596-1375

 Agape Problem during the 2nd round  competitive bidding iclude not limited to:

  1. Agape’sLack of  organizational structure to sustain the providers’ demand
  2. Wrong company’s information sent out to another company in error by Agape
  3. Wrong document forms sent to providers in error by Agape
  4. Lack of following through with providers by Agape management
  5. Finding someone to answer providers’ questions in a timely manner was a problem for Agape
  6. Agepe shortage of staff to handle the work load created a lot of mess for many providers
  7. Conclusively, the Agape should be facing class action law suite by many providers