A winner reflects

Monday, November 26, 2012

FLETCHER, N.C. – Marcus Suess won mail-order contracts for diabetes supplies in all nine competitive bidding areas in Round 1, but he says the jury’s still out on how well the program works—for providers and beneficiaries. The president of All-States Medical Supply says there are some highs and lows that come with the mail-order contracts.

The pricing

Getting paid an average of 32% less is a challenge, Suess said. “We had to restructure some things and find where our inefficiencies were,” he said. “We did have to go to lower cost product—we didn’t have as much choice (to offer) patients like they had been given in the past.” There’s also been a “huge” uptick in audits, says Suess.

The patients

Despite CMS’s claims that competitive bidding would save beneficiaries money, it turns out that money isn’t everything, Suess said. Many patients don’t want to use lower-cost products. “We are not going to tell them stories,” he said. “We let them know we were the most educated (provider) but we also told them, ‘Hey, if your doctor says (you need to use a certain product)’ or they believe it’s the best product for them, we tell them they can still go to their local pharmacy.”

The payoff

At the end of the day, it’s all about helping patients, said Suess. “If we take care of the patients, they’ll take care of us. Medicare makes it harder for us to do that but that’s what we strive for.”