Are providers branching out?


I just checked the results of our HME NewsPoll and, so far, with 126 respondents, they're looking very interesting.

First, we asked our readers whether they submitted one or more bids for Round 2 of competitive bidding. About 83% reported they did. That's not surprising, though 83% is a little lower than I thought it would be. That means 17% of providers didn't submit a bid. Based on a quick glance at the comments to the Poll, it looks like these providers have decided to wash their hands of Medicare.

Second, we asked our readers whether they submitted a bid in an area that they currently do not serve. About 63% reported they did not.

Third, we asked our readers whether they submitted a bid for a product category that they currently do not provide. About 85% reported they did not.

Anecdotally, I've heard the opposite is true of the second question. One provider told me he showed up to a hearing for new DME license applicants in a certain state and only a handful of the dozen or so new applicants in attendance had any presence there at the time.

Another provider told me he submitted bids in Greensboro and Asheville, N.C., and Greenville, S.C., even though he has no existing patients in the first city and very few patients in the second and third.

I think it makes sense, within reason, for providers to branch out geographically as part of competitive bidding. If I'm like the provider above, who is based in Charlotte, it probably makes sense to bid in surrounding areas.

If I'm a provider based in California and I bid in Greensboro—that's where it gets tricky, especially for an industry that's trying to build its reputation on service, not products.

See the HME NewsWire on Monday for the official results of the NewsPoll, plus some comments from readers. And if you haven't already, by all means, take the NewsPoll.

See you in Vegas!

Liz Beaulieu