State moves to preserve provider network

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

BURLINGTON, Vt.--Providers here won a small victory in July when Vermont Medicaid agreed to send a request for proposals (RFP) to competitively bid incontinence supplies to manufacturers and distributors instead of to HME providers.

“We feel like our meetings with Medicaid drove home our point,” said Chris Henry, Vermont chair of New England Medical Equipment Dealers (NEMED). “Vermont has nowhere near the critical mass needed to realize significant savings.

Last fall, the state published a request for information on competitive bidding. Providers and representatives from NEMED met with state officials several times last spring to discourage the plan, which they felt would limit beneficiary access to needed supplies.

“Our recommendation to them was that they should keep the current network in place,” said Karyn Estrella, executive director of NEMED. “In a rural state like Vermont, it’s not good to have just one provider.”

Under NEMED’s suggestion, the state will now send out an RFP to manufacturers and distributors of the products. HME providers would then purchase the supplies at the winning bid price and supply them to beneficiaries.