HME News

JUN 2017

HME News is the monthly business newspaper for home medical equipment providers. This controlled circulation publication reaches 17,100 home medical equipment services providers, including traditional HME dealers & suppliers, hospital- and pharmacy-o

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News 4 www.hme N / ju N e 2017 / hme N ews Visit us at the VGM Heartland Conference Booth #516 | PIECE TOGETHER YOUR FREEDOM with the new Vector power wheelchair At Avid Rehab, our mission is to keep you moving while improving your quality of life. Avid is an attitude meant to embrace the spirit of those who refuse to give up. Piece together affordability and durability by using the new Vector power wheelchair. Our product brings together the missing puzzle piece that rewards you with the best luxury in life – freedom. Find your missing piece of the puzzle! Above the rest The Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services announced its "Above and Beyond Award" winners at its Spring Excellence in HME Convention & Exhibition, April 26-28 in Omaha, Neb. Lelia Wilkerson, a director at Heritage Medical Equipment and Supplies in Burlington, Iowa, won the association's highest honor as a provider. made some providers more finan- cially viable but has put patients in a bind. "The biggest impact for us has been to drop certain categories, i.e. nebulizers, hospital beds, walkers, and only bill them unassigned for Medicare beneficiaries," wrote Jim Lehan of Lehan's Medical Equip- ment in Rockford, Ill. "We do enough cash business and non- Medicare business to most likely stay in business, but the patients have suffered as no one will take assignment on a lot of Medicare business." Twenty-eight percent of respon- dents say the biggest impact of the cuts has been going into debt, both professionally and personally, to keep their businesses afloat. "We have debt now of $100,000, when we were debt free before the price reduction," wrote Diane Friend of Valley Home Health Care in Roanoke, Va. "I have not received a salary for more than 11 months as an owner." Sixteen percent of respondents say the biggest impact has been cut- ting staff, 11% say closing locations, and 8% say putting growth plans on hold. For many respondents, the impact spreads across their businesses. "We have laid employees off, and we have had to borrow money to say open," wrote Lana Cochrane of p ersonal Medical Equipment in Anna, Ill. "If things keep going as they are we will not be able to pro- vide equipment to our customers much longer, and we service a very rural, impoverished area." For some providers, diversity has been a lifeline, whether it's an accompanying retail business or other homecare-related business. "We have survived by the skin of our teeth due to the fact that we also provide pharmacy services and state bid contract medications," wrote Melissa Hammett of p rofes- sional Care p harmacy in Monroe, La. But even after making changes to their businesses and leveraging diversity, it's not enough for some providers. For them, the sense of despair is palpable. "It's been a slow, painful death, but they've gotten what they want- ed: the shutdown of an industry of small, service-oriented businesses," wrote Kathleen Weir Vale of H op E Medical in San Antonio. hme N e WS p OLL C O N T I N U E d f R O M PA g E 3 (60.8%) and n ew York (60.1%). "A lot of people have been acquired or are going out of busi- ness," said Anthony Cecere, presi- dent of Homecare USA in West Babylon, n .Y., who has been in business 21 years but hasn't drawn a salary the past three years. "I think we are going to see more fall- out over the next six months to a year. p eople cannot continue to do business without reimbursement." Two hundred miles away, in g reen Island, n .Y., outside of Albany, the number of providers has stayed relatively stable but the makeup of those providers has not, says provider Irene Magee. "There are fewer independents— more of the locals were purchased by Lincare so that consolidated our area," said Magee, vice president and director at n ortheast Home Medical Equipment. "In our mar- ket, we've also seen the entry of a number of bid winners that have never serviced this area. There are true access issues here if a person with traditional Medicare wants to get (discharged) timely." Like Cecere, provider Doug Westerdahl believes there's more fallout to be had. He says he's con- cerned that the decrease in provid- ers will only worsen as other payers adopt Medicare's rates. "We've seen a significant drop in our profit margins and we've had to lay off 10 people since January," said Westerdahl president of Roch- ester, n .Y.-based Monroe Wheel- chair. "I've been saying for a while that I think we've crossed the tip- ping point and hopefully it won't get worse." hme C ru MBLING C O N T I N U E d f R O M PA g E 1 With the fee schedule coming on the heels of recently released CMS data that shows a 41% decline in the number of HME providers, provider frustration is understandable, says Ryan, who received some "unpleasant calls" from AAHomecare members. "They are outraged and they should be outraged," he said. "They need to come out and show that sense of outrage to members of Congress—that this is a small industry being attacked by CMS." hme fee SCH edu L e fru ST r AT e S C O N T I N U E d f R O M PA g E 3

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