Texas: MESA offers alternative to bidding

Sunday, January 23, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas – The Medical Equipment Suppliers Association (MESA) is about to find out if state officials meant it when they said they were open to an alternative proposal to competitively bidding incontinence supplies.

The association, which represents providers in Texas and three other states, delivered an alternative proposal to officials at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Comptroller Public Accounts in December.

“We feel we have addressed what they claim they want to do with competitive bidding,” said Liz Moran, MESA’s executive director.

The alternative proposal recommends implementing licensure, accreditation and surety bond requirements; requiring criminal background checks; and reducing the number of diapers, briefs and underpads allowed per month.

One of the reasons the state has proposed competitive bidding is to save money. The alternative proposal will do that, too, by, for example, reducing the number of diapers allowed per month from 300 to 220, Moran said.

“We’re not saying if someone really needs 300 diapers, they shouldn’t get them,” she said. “But a lot of people don’t use all of the diapers they get and they end up stockpiling them or re-selling them, and the state is paying for those unnecessarily.”

Another reason the state has proposed competitive bidding is to reduce the number of providers it works with. The alternative proposal will do that, too, Moran said.

“Providers who are just doing a little bit of incontinence supplies—they’re not going to get accredited and meet the other requirements,” she said. “They’ll just get out of the program because it’s not cost effective for them.”

The alternative proposal has some weight behind it: It’s supported not only by MESA’s board of directors but also by the United Ostomy Associations of America.

“We believe that competitive bidding isn’t the answer,” said Linda Aukett, UOAA’s advocacy chair. “It will just drive down reimbursement further, to a point where providers will be forced to use generic products or cheap substitutes, and the patients are going to suffer and won’t get what medical professionals recommend they get.”