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‘There goes the bottom line’

‘There goes the bottom line’

‘There goes the bottom line’

YARMOUTH, Maine – As if higher cost of goods and freight surcharges weren’t enough to squeeze HME providers, they are now having to contend with higher gas prices. 

“We recently filled up and it was something like $4.99 a gallon,” said Richard Beard, owner of YD Home Medical in York, Ala., a rural area where his average patient is located 40 miles away. “I’m paying double what I used to pay for CPAP devices and now, with an increase in gas prices, there goes the bottom line.” 

At press time, the national average price for a gallon of gas was $4.18, according to AAA Gas Prices. 

Fluctuations in gas prices, which aren’t uncommon, require providers to be deliberate in how they manage costs and run their businesses, says provider Erik Mickelson. 

“We deal with it by being very intentional with how we drive and if you are out of our service area we charge for it,” said Mickelson, CEO of Howard’s Medical, which has locations in Yakima and Sunnyside, Wash. “We can take care of you, but you might have to come pick it up in our store.” 

For provider Tyler Riddle, who has a fleet of about 50 vehicles, the biweekly gas bill typically averages $9,000 to $10,000, and his latest bill will likely be more like $15,000. But it’s tough to say no to “911 deliveries” from customers, he says. 

“We’re all over the place,” said Riddle, president of MRS Homecare in Tifton, Ga. “We don’t load a van down with equipment in the morning. Routing works in our larger markets but in the vast majority we deliver it rather than schedule it.” 

Provider George Kucka says the increase in gas prices is another important talking point for H.R. 6641, a bill that would implement a blended reimbursement rate based 90% on bid pricing and 10% on the 2015 fee schedule, representing about a 10% to 15% increase.  

“My cost of gas went from $5,000 to $11,000 a month,” said Kucka, president of Fairmeadows Home Health in Schererville, Ind. “I don’t know how anybody can swallow that. This bill in Congress to get some sort of relief is essential to our industry.”


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