State delays bidding rule

Friday, February 29, 2008

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Providers in January received what will probably be only a brief reprieve from the state's plan to competitively bid HME.
After a Jan. 9 public hearing, the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services (ODJFS) decided to redraft its rule to competitively bid only incontinence supplies, according to Kam Yuricich, executive director of the Ohio Association for Medical Equipment Services (OAMES). The rule originally allowed ODJFS to bid any medical equipment or supply item.
With the ODJFS going back to the drawing table, the state's Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) scrapped its Feb. 19 review, the final step before the rule's implementation, Yuricich said.
"This means the process starts all over again," she said.
In her testimony at the hearing, Yuricich said competitive bidding would negatively impact access and quality of patient care. She also said it was an "untested proposal for health care."
While providers applaud the delay, they fear it's only a matter of time before competitive bidding strikes not only incontinence supplies but also other HME.
"If you start with one (product), eventually, they'll want to roll everything in," said Jason Seeley, president of the Columbus, Ohio-based Dasco Home Medical Equipment and vice president of OAMES.
The day of reckoning will come sooner rather than later for providers of incontinence supplies.
"We have problems with managed care, when our mail-order patients run out of incontinence supplies, but they usually have enough money to pay for a box to hold them over," said Tom Mullaney, president of Cincinnati-based Mullaney Medical. "When Medicaid beneficiaries are left hanging, they won't have that option. It sounds good on paper, but it's going to hurt."