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Cuts squeeze providers, patients, says PFQC

Cuts squeeze providers, patients, says PFQC

WATERLOO, Iowa - Forty percent of the calls it receives through a hotline number are now from patients and caregivers who are being asked to pay out of pocket for their home medical equipment, according to People for Quality Care.

An increasing number of HME providers are filing claims non-assigned, requiring their patients to cover more of the cost of their equipment, PFQC said in an Oct. 24 press release.

“I just received a letter from my oxygen provider saying that they would not be taking assignment anymore, and I would be required to pay upfront for my supplies,” said Terrie of Grand Island, Neb., a caller to the hotline. “I am on a fixed income and don't have the ability to do so.”

PFQC has seen an uptick in these types of calls in the wake of Medicare slashing reimbursement in non-competitive biddings areas on Jan. 1 and again on July 1.

Providers like Air-Way Medical in Bishop, Calif., say they have done all they can to save money—in addition to filing claims non-assigned, they've laid off staff and they've discontinued product categories.

“If I am forced to go bankrupt, no one else is left to fill this void,” said Glenn Steinke, owner of Air-Way Medical, which is the only provider with a physical location within 150 miles of the rural town.

In the release, PFQC calls on Congress to intervene in November, when lawmakers return to the Hill, by passing legislation that would retroactively delay the second round of reimbursement cuts in non-bid areas on July 1.

“Many patients don't have the financial capacity to take on this additional cost, yet the companies who serve them are operating in the red with Medicare's current reimbursement,” said Kelly Turner, director of advocacy for PFQC, which maintains the hotline. “Both sides are being squeezed. It's a no-win system.”


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