WASHINGTON, DC – With a lot of worry, fear, concern, and downright apathy floating around about the impact of the non-competitive bidding program, I worry that many suppliers will throw up their hands and quit the DME business altogether, and that would be a mistake.
There is always going to be a need for the products we have provided since the beginning of the DME benefit. Seniors, the disabled, the ill and infirm, have grown to depend on products and related services from DME suppliers.
Just because the bidding program is throwing curves at everyone doesn’t mean that this demand is going to go away. In fact, with more than 8,000 Americans turning 65 every day, demand for what we do will grow.
Consumers will continue to need and use HME and services. Wheelchairs, walkers, beds, PAP, oxygen, and all of the other products we provide will be used long after we have all retired.
What will change is how we do business, what we get paid, and who pays for the DME services. We should all recognize the amount we will be paid is going to be less, so we must adapt, become more efficient, and embrace the automated Internet age.
Who pays will also change as managed care continues to grow and health care reform becomes fully implemented. There will be more retail, but there will also be more managed care payers in the marketplace as primary and home-based care becomes a prevalent controller of health care delivery costs.
The one certainty is that when someone needs a wheelchair, they will get it, and if we abandon the DME business in the face of the present adversity, someone else will jump right into the market place. New players will only see opportunity, and without the history we have, they will succeed because they won’t be hung up on the past.
What will you do? Will you walk away and refuse to change? Or will you stay and play in the new sandbox?
Wayne Stanfield is vice president, Provider Relations, for the American Association for Homecare. He can reached via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.