Providers vent respiratory frustrations

Friday, December 31, 2004

YARMOUTH, Maine - While 66% of HME News Poll respondents in December said they would continue to provide albuterol and ipratropium to Medicare beneficiaries, only 44% called CMS’s new $57-per-month dispensing fee “reasonable.” Many providers denouncing the average sales price reimbursement formula in its entirety.

“What’s the point of throwing us a few crumbs by way of a dispensing fee while cutting the product’s reimbursement by 89%,” said respiratory provider Stephen Fitch. “This whole thing is getting crazier by the minute and will drive all but the big boys out of business.”

Joining in criticism of the ASP, Wayne Pontiff, director of DME at Dimmtt, Texas-based Plains Memorial Hospital, said, “It seems to be that once again the government is going about it all wrong. As a merchant, the idea of selling something for less than cost just doesn’t make sense.”

According to poll results, however, only 34% of 53 respondents said they would quit the respiratory business in 2005, but others said service quality may diminish as the remaining providers try to boost margins.