Damn the torpedos


So Congress finally ended its tantrum, I mean government shutdown, just in time to recess for a few days last week. Now that they are back to work (she said, tongue-in-cheek), HME providers should have plenty of horror stories for them about how the competitive bidding program is--or isn't--working.

I posted a story in last week's newswire about subcontracting and how it's not all it's cracked up to be. The general feeling when talking to subcontractors, and this didn't translate into the story, was disillusionment.

What do I mean by that? Well, put aside the question of $ and whether subcontractors can make the numbers work (they can't), the folks I talked to simply don't like delivering junk and delivering it days or weeks later than they are accustomed. The biggest impact will be to beneficiaries but there will be a cost to the healthcare system, when beneficiaries get stuck in the hospital. I know, I know, I am preaching to the choir.

And, things are tough all over. In my email this morning, I had a message from a provider who wrote: "In our area, a two day wait for a hospital bed would be hailed as a complete success story. Here, (SW Florida), the nearest provider of hospital beds is 60 miles away and currently has a three week back order."

Three weeks! And that's if they can even hobble out of the hospital. The same provider also wrote: "The care mgt teams at all of the health systems are doing back flips just to get a walker for discharge."

Yep, great plan, CMS. But I gotta wonder, when lawmakers are just as likely to create disaster, and inflict harm upon we the people, are we all just doomed by the bean counters? At least one provider took inspiration from one outgrowth of the shutdown, in this comment on my subcontracting story:

"After watching the vets storm the WW2 monument don't you wish a ton of elderly people would dump their equipment in a pile outside every polititician's Senate office?"

It's like a senior battle cry for "Damn the torpedoes!"—and a funny visual. Alas, we already have our cartoon for the November issue.

Theresa Flaherty