Home medical equipment and the laws of nature

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10/06/2009

I know AAHomecare and other industry leaders have worked hard to demonstrate the value of home medical equipment, but that message is a hard sell when reporters keep comng out with stories like this one from Fox News: “Tracking your Taxes: Medicare Waste Goes Unchecked.”

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Here’s what the story has to say about DME:

According to their own auditors, Medicare knowingly overpays for almost everything it buys. Examples include:

—    $7,215 to rent an oxygen concentrator, when the purchase price is $600
—     $4,018 for a standard wheelchair, while the private sector pays $1,048.
—    $1,825 for a hospital bed, compared to an Internet price of $1,071.

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—    $3,335 for a respiratory pump, versus an advertised price of $1,987.
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—    $82 for a diabetic supply kit, instead of a $47 price on the Web

If you are just a regular taxpayer—not someone who understands how to run a business and how expensive it is to maneuver through Medicare’s bureaucracy—these numbers look outrageous.

Undead dvd If you want to see just how outrageous, read the comments people made regarding this story.  These comments are peppered with angry words and phrases like: kill; free stuff from the government; this is a f¬¬__ing joke!; and we all know MSRP is already bloated price for a product.

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It goes on.

The bottom line is that a lot of people think government is riddled with incompetence and controlled by special interests. I feel a little bit like this myself, especially when it comes to the pharmaceutical and oil industries, which seem to make astronomical profits at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer.

So when a news report comes out that paints the DME industry as just another overpaid special interest group, it doesn’t surprise me that people fret and fume and lob nasty comments like grenades at Washington. People these days are frustrated and cynical, and with the country in financial shambles—thanks mostly to special interests and government officials who are/were ideological, cowardly, asleep at the wheel or a pathetic combination of all three—who can blame them?

There’s no easy answer here, no magic bullet that will turn the tide for HME providers. The industry must keep fighting the good fight. But these are tough times, and it’s beginning to look more and more like only the strong will survive.

— Mike Moran

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Comments

Your point's well taken, Mike. This is just one more reinforcement of the need for the industry to pull together and present a unified appearance. We need to face out, not in.