Providers beat back bidding language

Sunday, May 31, 2009

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.--Florida providers in May staved off legislation that would have opened the door to a competitive bidding program for incontinence supplies.

Just prior to the Easter holiday, language was added to state House and Senate appropriations bills that would have authorized the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), which oversees Florida Medicaid, to competitively bid incontinence supplies. On May 4, after several weeks of intense lobbying, industry stakeholders learned the language had been removed from the bill.

“It was a hard-fought battle,” said Sean Schwinghammer, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Home Care Services (FAHCS).

Providers had their work cut out for them, he said. The state had a $6 billion budget gap to fill and lawmakers were looking for ways to save money.

“This was a clear example of how people can come in and blame the industry for everything,” said Schwinghammer. “This gives us time to rebuild the reputation of the industry and be ready to take on this kind of thing in the future.”

This is the third time in four years incontinence supplies have faced bid proposals, said Heather Allen, president of the Florida Home Medical Equipment Association (FHMEA).

“AHCA is looking for alternative cost savings on incontinence supplies that would be far less detrimental to suppliers and beneficiaries,” she said. “We are against competitive bidding and we have our sleeves rolled up. There’s a way to do this better.”