Stakeholders: Spread the word on competitive bidding

Thursday, December 16, 2010

WASHINGTON - With competitive bidding approaching with all the fury of a class 5 hurricane, HME industry stakeholders last week continued to batten down the hatches.

The National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers (NAIMES) distributed a "strategic action plan" to the executive directors of the state associations in the nine competitive bidding areas (CBAs) that outlines the steps they should take in the days before and after the program kicks off Jan. 1. The Accredited Medical Equipment Providers of America (AMEPA) and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., debuted toll-free complaint lines: 1-888-876-3369 and 1-888-671-4091. AAHomecare also plans to have a toll-free complaint line up and running this week.

"When this thing starts in January and there are problems, we need to be ready," said Wayne Stanfield, executive director of NAIMES.

Industry stakeholders have already setup two websites to report problems: and

The action plan distributed by NAIMES advises the executive directors to share the plan and supporting documents with providers and to encourage them to forward the information to patients and referral sources, report problems and contact their local media.

"CMS will spin any failures with the program as provider failures, so the media needs to know what's going on to appropriately report on this," Stanfield said. "The industry can't get slammed again."

Rose Schafhauser, executive director of the Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services (MAMES), which has members in the Kansas City CBA, plans to take that part of the action plan, in particular, very seriously.

"We're looking at engaging a PR agency in Kansas City, so we can take that information that's reported and get it out to the general public," she said. "We need to get the public engaged; they need to be informed; they need to know this is what the government has done."

Liz Moran, executive director of the Medical Equipment Suppliers Association (MESA), which has members in the Dallas CBA, hopes the industry is up for the challenge.

"I don't know any providers who are excited about anything right now," she said. "Even the contract suppliers are feeling defeated."