'Things should be getting better, not worse'

Friday, August 31, 2007

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - It doesn't seem right to Rick Perrotta.
As he adjusts to a reduced fee schedule for power wheelchairs (a big part of his business) and faces competitive bidding (Charlotte's one of the first 10 sites) he faces the prospect of having to close his business. Go figure.
"Part of you says business is business and that you've got to move on," said the president of Network Medical Supply. "But when you spend 13 years building something up, have eight great employees and 3,000 customers--things should be getting better, not worse."
In all, Perrotta estimates that Medicare fee schedule cuts last fall, coupled with increased documentation requirements, reduced power chair reimbursement by about 30%. Now, CMS expects competitive bidding to reduce reimbursement, at the very least, another 10%. With that scenario staring providers in the face, Perrotta wonders: "Why hang in there? Why submit yourself to that level of abuse?"
Facing the possibility that he might have to close his company, Perrotta started up a new business outside the HME industry last spring. By year's end it "should be cranking some descent income," he said.
"It's just preparing for the future," Perrotta said. "If you are in an industry with a strong headwind, you could be as smart as they come but be lucky to eek out a living. In my opinion, that is what DME with Medicare has become, particularly mobility and oxygen."