This is what it must be like to work in the HME industry.
In the same day (today), I received an email from a provider that exemplifies all that is wrong with the HME industry, and another that exemplifies all that is right.
First the wrong.
A provider in Florida emailed me about how it received a call from a CMS rep looking for a provider to supply a hospital bed for a Medicare beneficiary in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The CMS rep said the only provider in the area had withdrawn from the program.
“He asked if we could drop ship a hospital bed, to which I responded, ‘No, we could not comply with the CMS Provider Standards by drop shipping a hospital bed,’” the provider said.
The provider says competitive bidding-influenced pricing has everything to do with this void.
“I wonder what the residents of this area will do for HME products and services?” the provider asked.
We all know, of course, that this scenario is playing out in dozens of areas across the country, non-contiguous and contiguous.
Now the good.
Another provider emailed me about how it was able to customize a wheelchair for a junior high school student, who due to his condition must remain in a prone position, that was life-changing. She’s not kidding.
“Every morning the bus driver would call the teacher five minutes before arriving to let her know they were on their way, so she could help him with the student, and there would be crying in the background,” the provider told me when I called her. “The first day the student used the new wheelchair, the teacher didn’t get a phone call. The bus driver just rolled him into the classroom and everyone was happy.”
I’ll keep both of these stories top of mind tomorrow at the AAHomecare Legislative Conference, as I listen to industry leaders and lawmakers outline their efforts to bend the curve more toward the right.