Friday, February 15, 2013

Tennessee Providers Generate Strong Coverage of Bidding Program

Homecare providers need to raise the profile of the bidding program and the problems it is causing around the nation by engaging their local media. Here’s one recent example of successful media outreach pushing back against the bidding program.

Last week, Gene Ray, Greg Nuckles, and Tom Webb, executives from AAHomecare member companies in the Memphis, Tenn., area helped lead a group of their fellow home medical equipment providers to meet with Cole Epley, a reporter from the Memphis Business Journal to discuss the effects of the bidding program in light of the of Round 2 prices released on Jan. 30.

The result of their two-hour meeting sharing stories with the Epley resulted in a Feb. 8 story in the Journal  that laid out many of the problems that providers and patients are facing in the wake of Round 2:

“Gene Ray, president of Southern Diabetic Supply Co., says the program will simply price him out of business. Presently, Medicare accounts for 99 percent of the company’s revenue, but Ray adds that the ripple effect emanating from Medicare changing its prices will harm other businesses that work with private insurers.

‘Whatever Medicare does, BlueCross will follow,’ Ray says. ‘Competitive bidding means a 72 percent cut in reimbursement for diabetic testing supplies and that means no local providers are going to be available anywhere.’

‘We explained to our staff after the ruling that, after looking at our profit and loss statement, I don’t have room to make up for the loss in revenue,’ Greg Nuckles, COO at The Diabetes Store, says. ‘We’re lean as it is and there are not a lot of line items to cut other than employees. That’s the last thing you want to cut.’

 The program is ‘ill-conceived and poorly implemented,’ according to Tom Webb, president and CEO of Memphis-based VistaCare Health Services Inc., who says that ‘arbitrarily lowering Medicare reimbursement rates’ equates to a ‘de facto way of not providing services.’

‘The fee schedule is already lower than the suppliers’ cost, in many instances,’ Webb says. ‘In response (to Medicare’s actions), private insurers will come back with even lower rates and that’s absolutely scary.’”

Help raise awareness about the disastrous and dangerous effects of the bidding program with your local media. See our 10 Steps to Effective Media Relations primer for basic guidelines on working with the media, or contact Julie Driver or Gordon Barnes for additional insight on generating coverage on the bidding issue.

No comments: