Providers rank their concerns


This press release arrived in my in-box at 4:50 pm Wednesday. Want to find out what providers consider the industry's most pressing issue? Read on.

MARTINEZ, Ga. – May 26, 2009 – The Committee to Save Independent HME Suppliers (CSI:HME) closed the provider survey on Friday, May 22, after 10 days.  Response to the survey has been strong with 242 companies completing the survey.  Analyses of the results are now complete and the full details will be shared with the key supporters.  A summary report will be shared with state leaders  and the press later this week.

The survey respondents overwhelmingly indicated that a repeal of competitive bidding was their number one priority, with repeal of the 36-month oxygen cap a close second.  With the results of the survey in mind, CSI:HME will place full emphasis on seeking repeal of the bidding program while still continuing to push for repeal of the oxygen cap.  The CSI:HME Legislative Activity Board (LAB), will use input from this initial industry survey to set its priorities for legislative action in 2009.

The rating of the six key industry issues was based on the cumulative value of all of the responses and shows the following results.  Repeal of competitive bidding ranked #1, followed closely by repeal of the oxygen cap in #2.  Ranking #3 was the need to restore the 9.5% cut to complex rehab.  A distant 4th, and in a virtual statistical tie with #5, strengthening site inspections, was the oxygen reform moving to a provider status.  Ranking #6 was reform/repeal of the surety bond.

The data has been analyzed in more than a dozen different scenarios in order to provide details to various interested parties.  CSI:HME is extremely pleased with the number of responses.  These 242 companies represent a total of 567 locations with 7784 employees.  Respondents came for 42 states.  CSI:HME leadership views this as sound guidance for the positions it will follow to meet its goals.  A summary of the results will be provided to key legislators as an indicator of the views of the broad HME industry.

Based on these results, a more detailed survey related to competitive bidding will be launched within a few days.  This will be followed by a detailed survey on oxygen and how the cap has affected patients and suppliers.  These results will be further used to refine the lobby message to Congress.

In response to the emphasis by providers on competitive bidding, Tom Inman, President of Virginia Home Medical and CSI:HME LAB member noted that it reflects the fear that many providers “can’t survive competitive bidding.”  CSI:HME Managing Director, David Petsch, noted that he was not surprised to see competitive bidding as the number one concern.  “With the unreasonably low fees in the first bid, most providers are very concerned that the rebid prices will be driven even lower by the fear of being left out.” stated Petsch.

Petsch also stated that positive results were already coming from both the lobbyist and the publicist.  “I learned from having a state lobbyist that knowing what’s going on is half the battle,” said Petsch.  “Lobbyist talk to other lobbyist and you find out who you might have opposing your position.”  Petsch went on to say that the publicist has made contact with numerous media outlets and a media kit for providers will be available within a few days.   Positive editorial pieces in key publications are anticipated very soon.

Esta Willman, President of Medi-Source Equipment & Supply in California, and a PAOC member noted that a failure to win a bid on top of the 11.8% cut to oxygen fees will put many companies out of business.  “Independent providers like me will have difficulty surviving unless they win the bid,” noted Willman, who also indicated that in the first Round, subcontracting was impossible and will not likely be any better in the rebid.

CSI:HME will be working closely with NAIMES to advance the priorities through their developing grassroots membership.  NAIMES launched an aggressive campaign to gather cosponsors for HR2373 over the Memorial Day recess.  CSI:HME urges all state associations to ask their membership to support this bill by asking their Representatives to sign on as cosponsors.  “With AAHomecare working with their contacts in Washington during their Legislative Conference June 1-3, and the grassroots efforts of the state associations, VGM, and NAIMES, we should be able to exceed the 143 cosponsors on HR 621 last year,” stated Wayne Stanfield, NAIMES President and leaders of the administrative arm of CSI:HME.  He went on to say “Regardless of what other legislation may be coming, we cannot afford to miss this opportunity to end the oxygen cap before more patients and providers are harmed.”

CSI:HME will hold the survey open for a total of 30-days to allow as many comments as possible, and will create another report when the survey ends in June to compare the results with this report.  Replies will still be screened to validate the respondents.  Two additional detailed surveys will be launched soon, one to seek views on competitive bidding and the other on home oxygen services.

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