I hate it when I hear stuff like this

 - 
07/22/2010

I talked to a consultant last week who said something that left me shaking my head. Since CMS announced the competitive bid prices earlier this month, he's talked to both winning and losing HME providers, and guess what? Neither the winners nor the loser have a clue, at least the ones this consultant talked to.

When he asked the winners how they planned to handle the giant reimbursement cut, they said they didn't know.

When he asked the losers what they planned to do, they said they didn't know.

If you fail to plan, plan to fail.

Now I realize the bids, which drop reimbursement by an average of 32%, are lower than most people expected, but not a ton lower. In fact, based on a survey of HME providers we did earlier this year, it was pretty clear that providers would bid down prices between 25% and 30%.

On top of this, the industry has had two years to get ready for this latest round of competitive bidding. I wonder: How many providers during this two year window asked themselves these two questions: What will I do if I win the bid? What will I do if I lose the bid?

For providers in the recent Round 1.2 rebidding, if they haven't already, it may be too late to ask those questions. The new bid prices take effect Jan. 1, provided the industry doesn't eliminate competitive bidding all together.

It is not too late, however, for other providers around the country to ask themselves these questions and lay out strategic plans for both scenarios. As we know, even the best laid plans of mice and men can go awry. Even a good strategic plan may prove useless if reimbursement drops too sharply. But if you have a plan, at least you've got something to work with, a place to start, and that's a lot better than not having a clue.

Mike Moran