VA mulls national contract for home oxygen

Sunday, December 14, 2003

December 15, 2003

WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs is studying the feasibility of consolidating its $100 million book of business for home oxygen into a national contract held by a primary supplier.

The trend is part of a growing nationalization of contracts at the VA. Already, the Department has shunted contracts for such products as scooters, walkers, CPAP and blood pressure monitors from regional and local providers in 12 “VISN” regions to vendors with an ability service the contracts nationwide.

The VA purchases DME products out of an $850 million budget that procures everything from canes to pacemakers. The national contracts that have already been written are expected to save the VA $36 million over the next fiscal year, according to VA-commissioned calculations.

The savings come from aggregated purchasing power.

“We found that with 176 hospitals and 300-some outpatient clinics we were buying a wide range of [products], and we weren’t able to use out market share,” said Fred Downs, who oversees purchasing in the VA’s prosthetics department.