All eyes (OK, a lot of eyes) are on the HME industry


It's a big week for the HME industry, but not in a good way.

CMS is expected to announce the winning bid amounts for Round 1.2 of national competitive bidding this Friday, and providers everywhere, not just the nine competitive bidding areas, want to know: At what percentage below current reimbursement, on average, will the bid amounts come in at? (I can envision providers watching this unfold much like the way I watch a horror movie unfold: With my hands over my eyes, with my fingers slightly parted.)

But providers aren't the only ones.

You've probably already read Mike Moran's blog about Deutsche Bank sniffing around the HME industry, trying to dig up information about the bid amounts providers submitted.

Then late last week, I got an e-mail from an analyst speculating that the bid amounts for Round 1.2 of national competitive bidding will come in at up 30% below current reimbursement. "Our checks indicate that the winning bids are likely to be down by 20-30%," he stated in a bulletin.

Then I got a call from an investor this morning saying that he also thought the bids would come in at up to 30% below current reimbursement. (Maybe he and the analyst did the same "checks"?) But he wanted to know: What did I think?

I pretty much pled the fifth for a couple of reasons, including not wanting to influence an investor, who could, in turn, influence buying decisions, which could, in turn, influence the performance of some of the industry's public companies. (Am I overstating my influence? Probably.)

But there is this: After the Deutsche Bank incident, HME News and The VGM Group conducted a survey of the bid amounts providers submitted. We didn't really get enough responses to talk about the results too much, but we did release that in each of the product categories put out to bid, amounts ranged from 5% to 40% below current reimbursement.

Time will tell—and time, if CMS sticks to its timeline, is running out.

Liz Beaulieu


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