Repeal bidding program, say poll respondents

Thursday, January 13, 2011

YARMOUTH, Maine - HME providers may differ on what's the best strategy for dealing with competitive bidding, but a majority still support efforts to repeal the program.

In a recent HME NewsPoll, 62% of respondents said they favored repealing competitive bidding over supporting an alternative to the program or letting Round 1 play out.

"They should strive to get competitive bidding stopped immediately, before they create undue chaos," said Brent Smith, president of Smith Medical in Edmond, Okla., a Round 2 bid area. "Patients will be left on their own and not get what they need."

The program kicked off Jan. 1 in nine competitive bidding areas (CBA), despite ongoing efforts by industry stakeholders to repeal or delay the program.

If a repeal is going to happen, it may be time to enlist some more help, say respondents.

"I think we need to enlist the support of more influential organizations such as the American Medical Association (AMA) to position DME as quality care and lower cost of healthcare delivery," said one respondent.

Other providers, 22%, say that the best thing at this point may be to let Round 1 play out. After all, there are many legitimate providers who have a stake in the program.

"Round 1 needs to proceed to allow the system to take its course," said Brian Gordon, of D&E Supplies, which is in a Round 1 CBA. "Diligent suppliers have been making expensive changes to prepare and would suffer financially should there be any major changes at this point."

Pushing an alternative model, such as the one proposed by economist Peter Cramton, ranked low for most providers. Only 16% reported they would support any alternative.

"Mr. Cramton's plan is an example, but not the only one," said Cliff Doss of AireCore Medical Services. "I say it's time for the industry to offer an across-the-board cut. That way CMS and Congress will see that we are a willing participant and not out to get back to the 'glory days.'"

The poll should have included an option to vote "none of the above," said a handful of respondents.

"It is a sucker's choice," said one. "No good options exist. We are depending on the people that made it to fix the program. That is a scary thought."