Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Small Business Perspective on the Bidding Program

Home medical equipment providers and other stakeholders in the healthcare sector have been sending in their experiences and perspectives on the bidding program for DME to CBRound2BiddingProblems@aahomecare.org.   This week, we feature a particularly comprehensive and compelling entry from Mark Richardson, the owner of Home MediService, located in Havre de Grace, Maryland.  We’ll be running Mark’s tale in four blog entries, starting with:


A Small Business Story

I always thought that if my business failed that it would be at the hands of the marketplace.  I certainly never dreamed that it would happen at the hands of the government.  My name is Mark Richardson and I am the second generation owner of Home MediService, a provider of home medical equipment (or DMEPOS—government-speak for Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies) in Havre de Grace, Maryland.  We provide oxygen and respiratory equipment, hospital beds, enteral feeding supplies, wheelchairs, ambulatory assist devices, bathroom aids, and many other types of products and services that make it possible for a patient to be discharged from a hospital and go home to recuperate in a healthy, safe, and comfortable environment.  Our company works out of 3 locations in northeastern Maryland and one location in northern Delaware, serving over 3,500 patients.  We were founded in 1971 and employ a staff today of nearly 50 people.


Alphabet Soup of Regulation

I’ve always believed that free market principles like competition and laissez faire and supply and demand have been the secret ingredients of our economy’s and our country’s success, but we haven’t had any of those things in the healthcare sector in this country for a long time.  Because healthcare is a government-paid-for entitlement in this country, government regulates healthcare instead of relying on free market principles.  My particular business is regulated by CMS (the US federal agency that administers Medicare and Medicaid), the FDA, DOT, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Maryland Department of Environment, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, the Delaware Division of Professional Regulation, the Delaware Health & Social Services Division of Public Health, and we maintain mandatory accreditation with the ACHC (Accreditation Commission for Health Care, Inc.).  But that is not even to mention the other alphabet letters that regulate us that aren’t directly related to healthcare such as the IRS, OSHA, MD Comptroller of the Treasury, MD Department of Labor, MD Department of Assessments and Taxation, and I’m sure some others that I can’t remember.

The point is, ours’ is a highly regulated industry.  You’d think with all those government officials looking over our collective shoulders that we’d be doing something right.  Not so, according to our government.  CMS thinks that our entire industry is overpaid and rife with fraud and over-utilization of the Medicare program.  Because of this, ours’ is an industry under siege by CMS and our government.  We are subject to endless audits and a constant, mind-numbing stream of new regulations that are all designed to slow the growth of claims from the ever-increasing numbers of Medicare beneficiaries who require our services. 

Coming tomorrow: Fraud Alert and A Fly in the Ointment

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