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Bid rates divide mobility providers

Bid rates divide mobility providers

YARMOUTH, Maine - Some mobility providers are telling CMS to take its contracts for the Round 2 re-compete and take a hike, while others are determined to make it work.

On average, reimbursement rates for manual wheelchairs will drop another 13.2% as part of the Round 2 re-compete, according to an analysis from AAHomecare. For power wheelchairs, they will drop another 5%.

“We were awarded the bid for standard mobility, but I declined it,” said Jeff Hall, president and CEO of Reliable Medical in Brooklyn Park, Minn. “It just isn't worth all the audits and all the paperwork. There just wasn't enough on the bone.”

The reimbursement rate for manual wheelchairs will decrease, on average, 9.8% in Hall's area, the Midwest, and for power wheelchairs 3.7%.

But Jim Travis, president of West Seneca, N.Y.-based Buffalo Wheelchair, who accepted a contract for standard mobility equipment, says the cuts didn't surprise him.

“I thought they might even be lower, based on the psychology of bidding,” said Travis. “There were a lot of people who didn't get bids the first time, and I think they were probably a little more aggressive.”

On average, Travis' area, the Northeast, will see a 20.2% decrease in reimbursement for manual wheelchairs and a 6.1% decrease for power wheelchairs.

As to whether or not providers can offset the reimbursement cuts, Travis says that's a question just as much for the manufacturers.

“Dealers are going to have to become more efficient and take less profit and the manufacturers are going to have to come down a little bit,” he said. “Normally, it meets somewhere in the middle.”

Another option? Make fewer deliveries, says Tyler Riddle, vice president of operations at Albany, Ga.-based MRS Homecare.

“You can have people come in and pick up (the equipment) if your location allows it,” he said. “But, you're going to have a hard time not delivering to people discharged from the hospital.”

Meanwhile, Hall says he's done just fine without a bid contract.

“We were a better company without that bid last year,” he said. “We were able to focus more on our private pay and other payer sources.”


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