Stakeholders ready list of closures

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Friday, May 25, 2012

WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders are sorting through reports of more than 300 HME providers closing up shop thanks to Round 1 of competitive bidding.

The reports, collected by The VGM Group, NAIMES, AAHomecare and various state associations, are in the hands of AAHomecare, which is making a final edit.

"We want to make sure there's no duplicates," said Jay Witter, senior director of government affairs for AAHomecare. "We are also trying to categorize the information, which has been a challenge. It's not as cut and dry as somebody just going out of business."

While the original request by Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, was for a list of providers that went out of business in Round 1 competitive bidding areas (CBAs), industry stakeholders also gathered information on providers in Round 1 CBAs who have sold their businesses and those outside of Round 1 CBAs who have closed or sold their businesses.

And then there are the providers who have simply stopped offering DME or have laid-off employees.

"People are trying different things and they are struggling," said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. "Closure is the last resort."

Whatever the number, one thing is clear, stakeholders say: Fewer providers means less access to products and services.

"How can you not have access issues if you have these people going out of business," said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for VGM. "On top of that, if they also served Medicaid and third-party payer patients, who is now serving those folks?"

Stakeholders expect the number of closures to resonate with lawmakers.

"I think any congressman worth his salt would want to be asking questions of CMS to explain this," said Wayne Stanfield, president and CEO of NAIMES. “So the industry has to continue to put a unified and fairly aggressive pressure on committees to respond.”