Providers enjoy their 'quiet' state

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - When Paula Finamore-Gallucci, a Rhode Island provider, attends board meetings for the New England Medical Equipment Dealers association, she often knocks on wood.
"I hear what other states are going through, and I don't want any of it coming our way," said Finamore-Gallucci, NEMED's Rhode Island chairwoman. "You know, when you live in an area like New England, ideas can catch on from one state to another."
Unlike in neighboring states, the Medicaid program's a relatively smooth ride for providers in Rhode Island. Their biggest concern in the past several years: Rhode Island wanted to license its HME providers using the same criteria as home health agencies, but NEMED helped convince officials to hold off.
"Then the idea just kind of withered on the vine," said Finamore-Gallucci, general manager of the Warwick, R.I.-based Vanguard HME. "They said they would revisit it, but they never have."
In general, "nothing out of the ordinary" happens in Rhode Island, Finamore-Gallucci said.
"I think, primarily, it's because (Rhode Island) Medicaid doesn't try to reinvent the wheel," she said. "It pretty much mirrors the Medicare program and fees."
If they do have concerns, providers in Rhode Island enjoy good communication with Medicaid officials.
Finamore-Gallucci and Karyn Estrella, executive director of NEMED, continually poll Rhode Island members on Medicaid issues that concern them, but they never come up with much.
"We have our ears to the ground, should anything arise," Estrella said. "But it's a quiet state."