Rep’s words sting Florida providers

Sunday, February 29, 2004

ORLANDO, Fla. - Providers here say they recently got some insight into why things are going sour for HMEs in the Sunshine State.

Members of the Florida Association of Medical Equipment Suppliers attended a town hall meeting on the Medicare Prescription Drug Act hosted by Republican Representative Virginia Brown-Waite from Florida’s fifth district, and many left feeling offended by what their congresswoman had to say.

“Pretty much she told us that we were all fraudulent companies,” said Joan Cross, executive director of FAMES.

According to Cross, when a member of FAMES asked why she supported competitive bidding, Brown-Waite cited rampant fraud and abuse problems and asked a CMS official who was with her to talk further about the problems in Texas.

“Well, our comment is ‘You aren’t in Texas, Toto,’” said Cross. “FAMES has worked very hard to clean up Florida. We fought for and got state licensure, and we are looking at accreditation for the sate. So, don’t tell me what happened in Texas is my fault.”

In response to the congress-woman’s response, FAMES penned a letter to her office outlining its problems with CMS and its position on competitive bidding.

“The message I’d like to get out is that they need to reconsider when they lump us all into one barrel,” said Cross. “I am not a bad guy, and I am not going to have them call me that.”