Under contract: Ostomy, wound care

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

AUGUSTA, Maine--The state in March began paying lower allowables for some ostomy and wound care supplies through a new contract with Gulf South Medical Supply, a distributor in Jacksonville, Fla.

But providers, for the most part, weren’t sweating it. They may have to use the lower allowables, but they can still work on a cost-plus basis and they can still do business with any distributor.

“It’s a non-exclusive contract, which makes it workable,” said Jim Greatorex, president of Black Bear Medical in Portland. “Because, right now, we’re buying supplies at rates that are as good, if not better, (than Gulf South’s). I’m not sure the state’s going to save money this way.”

Gulf South distributes supplies from 14 warehouses, including one in neighboring New Hampshire.

The contract with Gulf South also includes low-cost walkers, bath benches and other basic durable medical equipment. That’s a low blow, says provider Tyrrell Hunter.

“For equipment like canes, it already costs us more to do the paperwork and everything else than we get reimbursed,” said Hunter, president of Majors Mobility in Topsham. “At some point, the government has to stop expecting us to absorb these price cuts and still provide quality products and services.”