Reporter's notebook: Inc. list loses luster for HME providers

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Monday, September 24, 2018

NEW YORK – Every year around this time, HME News usually gets a small flurry of press releases from HME providers who have landed on Inc. Magazine’s annual 5000 list of the fastest growing privately held companies in the U.S.

This year: crickets. A quick, highly unscientific perusal of the 375 healthcare companies on this year’s list confirmed the notable absence of several past winners.

Where, we wondered, were such list stalwarts as Cape Medical Supply, Carolina’s Home Medical Equipment, Aeroflow Healthcare and Home Oxygen Company? Had growth leveled off? Has the list lost its luster?

Both, it turns out.

Home Oxygen Company hasn’t submitted for the last two years, says Todd Usher, co-founder of the Modesto, Calif.-based provider.

“We were in fact flat or a little behind because of the rural rollout (of competitive bidding),” he said. “This year, we are growing; however, we are having trouble seeing the value in such a list to our company.”

Placing on the list gives companies recognition, marketing opportunities and good old bragging rights.

The rural rollout also whacked reimbursement hard for Carolina’s HME, says Andrew Trammell, president of the Charlotte, N.C.-based provider.

“Inc. looks at revenue numbers over a three-year period,” he said. “We are selling a lot more but at significantly lower reimbursement. Therefore, the unit growth is somewhat meaningless to Inc., so I did not even submit numbers.”  

Cape Medical Supply, in Sandwich, Mass., has made a hard turn away from Medicare in recent years, but that hasn’t stopped the competitive bidding program from having an impact on revenues, despite an increase in business, says CEO Gary Sheehan.

“We didn't submit to Inc.,” he said. “For us, it was Medicare rates washing across other payers—growth on patient volume remains enormous, but that just keeps revenues flat-ish.”

So, did anyone make this year’s list?

Yes, at least one: Charlotte, N.C.-based Portable Oxygen Solutions, at No. 1055. The online provider of POCs, which launched in 2013, had revenues of $3.2 million in 2017; its three-year growth rate was 467%.