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DES MOINES - A handful of dedicated providers here successfully beat back a proposal to competitively bid HME and supplies in June.

“We made it go away at least for a year,” said Terry Flatt, Iowa state chairman for the Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services (MAMES) and executive vice president of Hammer Medical Supply in Des Moines.

A report released in December suggested that a bidding program would save $4.1 million over five years. But in April, providers learned that the state actually needed to find savings of $1.5 million per year. That was on top of an across-the-board 5% rate cut in 2009.

With efforts already underway on the bidding program, providers managed to convince lawmakers to hold up and let them present an alternative savings plan.

“(We told them) 'Let us be part of it and we'll get to the number you need,'” said Julie Weidemann, director of Palmer Home Medical in West Union, and MAMES president.

In all, five codes are affected: the E1390 oxygen concentrator, which will see its daily rate drop from $8.84 to $7.50, and four codes for adult diapers with reductions of 9 cents to 11 cents. The cuts take effect Aug. 1.

“We wanted to get the most bang for the buck, with the least impact,” said Flatt. “We didn't want to cut 25 or 30 codes or have an across-the-board cut. We looked at their top 15 expenditures and felt like these were what we could live with.”


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