SAN RAPHAEL, CA – When Robert Andrews joined the family business in 2008, the specter of competitive bidding remained comfortably on the back burner. When it finally came time to bid in the five California counties (San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Sonoma, and Napa) served by Ron Andrews Medical Company, Robert spoke with experts and took several seminars. None of it worked.
“We did not get any contracts,” says the 40-year-old Andrews, who serves as vice president for the 34-year-old business. “I have heard about companies like ours that did take contracts, and they subsequently went out of business in the last few years.”
As the son of Ron Andrews, who started the business in 1975, Robert grew up around medical equipment and watched his father build a solid reputation based on outstanding customer service. Like so many established providers, Andrews must now tell long-time Medicare customers, and new ones, to go elsewhere. The worst part is that so-called winners are not doing their jobs.
“Patients have told me that the winning companies have told them, ‘We don’t deliver to Marin,’ which is a blatant lie on the part of the winning providers,” laments Andrews. “There are companies contracted to work in Marin, but they don’t deliver there—because they don’t want to, or it’s too far away—or they don’t make money. It’s probably illegal and violating the contract in multiple ways. And I don’t get the impression that the federal government has a system set up to enforce its own rules regarding competitive bidding. If you don’t enforce the rules, what’s the point?”
The good news for Ron Andrews Medical Company is that they have other sources of revenue. “We were not as heavily dependent on Medicare as some,” reveals Andrews. “Companies in places such as Fresno, that may be more reliant on Medicare, are having a much harder time.”
In an effort to become more in tune with the industry, Ron Andrews attended Medtrade Spring in Las Vegas last month. It was his first trip to the Spring edition of the nation’s premiere HME trade show. “I went to Medtrade in Atlanta when I first started in 2008, but I had not been back,” he says. “I wanted to get a sense of where the industry was going. I wanted to hear the speakers’ ideas, and the attendees’ ideas, about how to survive in this tough business environment. I got a lot out of Medtrade Spring. It was a good idea to reconnect with the industry and get out of my bubble.”
Joining AAHomecare was the last step toward full engagement, and Andrews made that leap after speaking with an AAHomecare representative. “At this point, our industry as a whole must be united,” he muses. “The industry is under siege. By joining, I wanted to bring our company into the fold and say, ‘We want to be as united as we can and fight for the survival of our industry.’ The goal is to stay in business and provide excellent service to patients. My father started this business, and he maintained a stellar reputation. I have focused on trying to continue that legacy.”
As the father of two young children, Andrews and his wife are currently in “full-blast parenting” mode. It leaves little time for hobbies, but Robert likes to indulge a passion for classic cars whenever he can. “My first word was car, and my son’s first word was car,” he says with a chuckle. “I have a 1974 Dodge Charger that I love to drive. I would love to get a 1960s or 1970s Citroen SM. It’s out of my reach, but I can dream.”