As a result of Medicare's application of competitive bidding-derived prices in rural markets, Cape Medical Supply, Inc. in Sandwich, Mass. announced they will no longer accept new patients on Nantucket Island. As the only respiratory care provider for this market, Gary Sheehan, president and chief executive officer for Cape Medical Supply, said, “it was not a decision we took lightly; however, a 52% reduction in reimbursement was simply operationally unworkable for us.” You can read more about what brought this company--that has provided service to Nantucket beneficiaries for 30 years--to this difficult decision in this impassioned blog post from Sheehan.
In Maine, WABI Channel 5 reported on the issue and interviewed Coastal Med Tech’s CFO, Cathy Hamilton:
“The industry is seeing business closures all over the country right now as a result of these cuts both in metropolitan and in rural areas because people have had trouble, even sustaining the January cuts,” Hamilton told the station.
The story cites rates portable oxygen rental reimbursement going from $40 a month to $18 a month following the July 1 cuts as one significant example of the reductions they have to deal with.
Coastal Med Tech is weighing its options, including possibly cutting back on delivery service, leaving patients waiting longer for items or making them come into their stores themselves.
The station also interviewed Karyn Estrella, President & CEO of the Home Medical Equipment & Services Association of New England, who added “In rural Maine, it is not unusual for a company to drive an hour one way to deliver equipment and that’s all included in the reimbursement”
You can watch the full report and interview with Cathy Hamilton here.
In Minden, Louisiana Andy Fish, co-owner of Minden HomeCare Equipment, shared with AAHomecare that due to the cuts they have already experienced in rural Louisiana, the company is no longer able to provide manual or power wheelchairs. Minded HomeCare was formerly able to provide equipment with same day service, but now they will have to wait until there are more than one delivery going in the same direction, and if patients have a bill they will now have to pay up front when the items are delivered. This is a new practice for the company, who used to work with patients and allow them to pay a little now and a little each month. Many patients are required to come pick up most of their items rather than having them delivered.
“We hate this, we started this business in 1998 to help the people in this area,” Andy explains. “We know almost everyone that we go to church with and see them in Walmart or the grocery stores.”
He went on to explain they no longer offer TENS units, full electric hospital beds (now only semi), nebulizer supplies, or canes through Medicare. Patients are asked to pay cash for those items and if a deductible is remaining the patient cannot receive supplies until it is met. The company has had to downsize their staffing and can no longer support school and civic organizations financially as they have in the past. The cuts have taken a toll on the homecare company.
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If your company is making difficult business decisions based on these latest cuts, please share your story with Tilly Gambill at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can document real examples of why competitive bidding rural relief legislation is critically needed.