Round 2: Up, down, all around

Friday, March 14, 2014

YARMOUTH, Maine – More than half a year in, Round 2 of the competitive bidding program has had an uneven impact on providers in affected areas.

Provider Steve Ackerman, whose Silver Springs, Md.-based Spectrum Medical is a contract supplier, says the biggest problem in his competitive bidding area (CBA) is that too many contracts went to out-of-state suppliers.

“We are the only brick-and-mortar provider inside the D.C. beltway that has a walker contract,” said Ackerman, owner. “You’re talking about 5 million people, so we were inundated dealing with walker issues.”

Other providers say some contract suppliers are not honoring the spirit of their contracts.

“I have seen firsthand other bid winners decline business and they give the reason that they are out of stock or the patient lives out of their service area,” said Woody O’Neal, vice president at O2Neal Medical in Pelham, Ala., which holds several contracts in the Birmingham CBA. “Those are convenient excuses.”

As to non-contract suppliers, they are divided on whether those excuses are good or bad for their businesses.

Mike Kuller, a non-contract supplier in the San Francisco CBA, has seen an uptick in cash sales—even for hospital beds.

“Of the four Medicare suppliers that won bids in this area, one of them already went out of business,” said Kuller, owner of Allstar Medical Supply in Walnut Creek, Calif. “If somebody wants to buy a bed, I can order it and have it in three days and set it up for them.”

In contrast, Louisville, Ky.-based Premier Homecare, a non-contract supplier, has seen dramatic declines at its three locations in CBAs.

“Fortunately, we have four other locations that aren’t directly affected at this point,” said Wayne Knewasser, vice president of public relations and government affairs. “We are putting our shoulders into promoting more retail, home accessibility, and our personal caregiver service.”