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2021, ice storms and other disasters

2021, ice storms and other disasters

Man, what a long year it’s been.

I was reminded of just how long while reading a few news articles in the days right before Christmas warning that Texas was no better prepared for treacherous winter weather now than it was a year ago when a devastating ice storm, which brought snow, ice and single-digit temperatures to a state ill equipped for such conditions, knocked power plants offline and citizens froze to death while Ted Cruz slithered over the border to Mexico.

Ah yes, I remember tracking down providers in the region, many of whom I had never “met” before to see how they were coping. I am grateful for the time they took to talk to me.

As always, and as the headline of that February article stated, they delivered even against the backdrop of the seemingly never-ending public health emergency.

A recent survey found that, for 78% of respondents, getting equipment to patients is their biggest hurdle during such a disaster. Thirty-three percent report that preparing for a disaster can cost up to $5,000. I know, from speaking to providers in the past for other disaster stories (Hurricanes. Floods. Fires.), they often also lose money, in some cases tens of thousands of dollars, just trying to do right by their patients.

The results of the survey should help the industry make its case for better reimbursement and better policy going forward, at least we can only hope so. CMS needs to do better by providers and in doing so, do better by beneficiaries.

Unfortunately, early signs point to more of the same old, same old. The release of the long-awaited final rule didn't contain a key ask sought by stakeholders: that the 75/25 blended reimbursement rates in non-rural areas should be extended beyond the current public health emergency and that the single payment amounts in bid areas should be adjusted to reflect major changes in product and operational costs due to the pandemic. 

We’ve said and heard it all before, about being pennywise and pound foolish. That’s how the HME infrastructure reached its breaking point. Over in Texas, the unwillingness to invest in, well, pretty much anything, contributed to Texas’ epic power grid failures (leaving all the politics aside for now).

As 2021 limps to its inevitable end, we can only try and move bravely forward, beating the drums, continually calling out problems as they arise and delivering on promises made.

See you in 2022!



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