Fox News Slams DME

Report compares Medicare rentals to web prices, carries pro-NCB slant.

"Medicare knowingly overpays for almost everything it buys," when it comes to HME, according to "Tracking Your Taxes: Medicare Waste Goes Unchecked ," a Fox News report that was released earlier this week.
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/10/05/tracking-taxes-medicare-waste/

The report by William LaJeunesse of Fox's Los Angeles bureau, compares a variety of medicare costs for DME against Internet purchase prices. However, the article contains no direct quotes or responses from anyone involved in the HME industry or homecare.

The Fox story also dedicates several paragraphs to former HHS secretary Mike Leavitt, who argued CMS's competitive bidding program is a means to manage costs.

"It would have saved billions if we could've actually implemented it, but Congress deferred it. In Washington speak, that means we put it off forever," Leavitt said in the report, referring to the 18- to 24-month delay of NCB via MIPPA. (Leavitt and report failed to mention that a rebid of round one of NCB is already well underway.)

One of the story's sensational price comparisons was that of a standard power wheelchair, which the report claimed cost Medicare $4,018 and the private sector $1,048. A statement from the Scooter Store said its CEO and founder Doug Harrison was "outraged" that the story apparently based it's report on a report on wheelchair costs from The Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) that was released in early September.

Read more about the OIG report at: http://hme-business.com/articles/2009/08/03/report.aspx

When the report was released, the American Association for Homecare says is misleading and “ignored the substantial costs of services related to providing power wheelchairs, including complex rehab, to seniors and people with disabilities who require mobility assistance.”

“I am extremely upset that a major broadcast network did not check their facts,” Harrison said. “The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) actually acknowledged that their report failed to include many of the costs associated with doing business with Medicare.”

A public statement the National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers called on providers to contact the reporter at william.lajeunesse@foxnews.com and let him know the story is flawed and unbalanced.

"If you are as outraged as most other suppliers we have heard from, you need to write a letter to this reporter," NAIMES said. "Make it short and to the point. State your view of his unbalanced story that he forgot to 'fact check' before publishing."

About the Author

David Kopf is the Editor of HME Business.

Comments

Thu, Sep 23, 2010 ron ny

This guy is way off base. The legitimate DME Companies follow the rules and regulations other wise they will pay huge fines and end up in Jail. In an industry that is always being cut is making it more difficult to make ends meet. I pay my employees well and we love helping people. Do not compare us to an internet company. We service ,service and service the customer. You can bill Medicare for a 3 *** chair but chances are they will only pay 1 *** or 1 *** for a christopher reeve type chair. Get the facts straight and please the public needs to know we are the only industry in the world where the insurance company can pay today *** for a product and some assanine medical director 5 years later can rule that the claim should not have been paid and takes the money back on my next remit. How bad is that.

Fri, Jul 16, 2010 Bob

For probably the first time in my life I can't disagree with Fox's assessment. Having worked in the business, I am familiar with quite a few items that had ridiculous profit margins. That said, most every DME dealer I knew had at least one exotic automobile (Ferrari), lived in an extremely expensive home and took home, at least, a high six figure income. S

Wed, Nov 18, 2009 Howard West Bloomfield Michigan

The story by Fox News has one veiw the veiw that sells papers and advertisement. Working in the DME field for 30 years I know there always people that will take advantage of other but than is the people who really help people and follow the guides line. I would hope that Fox will fill in the blanks of both sides of the story. I will know longer be a veiwer of Fox New and others should follow to make a point. A concern Person

Mon, Oct 12, 2009 Josephj Jonesboro, AR

Dear FOX news do a little research on what it takes to run a independent HME/DME company and get back to me. Your way off base here and have no clue to what it is your talking about. Due to the cuts and over spent cost most company's like my family have taken on. We were forced to close another store which began more than thirty years ago. Leaving us with one remaining store when we begun with six. Now serving patients with the care thats expected from the patient and there family's. Well let's just say that anybody reading this article or any other in the future about HME/DME business cost. DO YOUR JOB AND DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE BLASTING A INDUSTRY THAT HAS TAKEN MAJOR LOSSES AND YET STILL SIGNIFICANT IN THE WORLD WE LIVE IN TODAY

Mon, Oct 12, 2009 JB

Dan is also the type of PT who inherits a patient who just received a PMD and will call the supplier "demanding" that the entire unit be replaced because he doesn't like it; forgetting about the fact that the PMD was ordered by a physician and selected with the input of a therapist, and if necessary an ATS. Shame of Fox News, so much for "fair and balanced".

Sun, Oct 11, 2009 Mike Amarillo, Tx

Dan obviously has no clue what it takes to purchase, instruct, bill insurance, and comply with all the demands that Medicare places on a DME company , including accreditation and Surety bonds. It is so much easier and cheaper to provide equipment for cash on the internet it's rediculous. That is not healthcare. Internet businesses don't bill insurance and provide NO SERVICE! The cost of the equipment is the smallest cost we have in this business. When will people wake up and realize that. If everybody wants to pay with cash or credit card and doesn't want delivery and 24 hour service. I am happy to provide that service. Unfotunatly everybody wants to use there insurance, wich comes with huge demands for the provider. WAKE UP DAN!

Sun, Oct 11, 2009 Texas

I can't disagree with FOX. Isn't the internet cheaper on a whole spectrum of products? Let's see the internet: put together the PMD,add batteries to it,deliver it, explain how to use it, diagnose problems if any,get original signatures on an invoice, bill an insurance, return to the clients home for any questions with the equipment, then finally get paid from an insurance( what ever fee the insuarance deems customary) six months later if the insurance pays at all.

Sun, Oct 11, 2009

Dan, how can you possibly agree with this report? I have worked in the DME industry for 10+ yrs, and also have my degree in physical therapy,and I can't believe another healthcare professional could possbily agree with this. Obviously, you don't understand the business and all of the costs behind it. I will suggest that sit down and talk to one of your local vendors to fully understand what we as suppliers must go through.

Sun, Oct 11, 2009

Dan, how can you possibly agree with this report? I have worked in the DME industry for 10+ yrs, and also have my degree in physical therapy,and I can't believe another healthcare professional could possbily agree with this. Obviously, you don't understand the business and all of the costs behind it. I will suggest that sit down and talk to one of your local vendors to fully understand what we as suppliers must go through.

Sat, Oct 10, 2009 Larry Oklahoma

These reporters need to come to the DME Poviders stores and go through a day in our lives and see to what extent we have to collect paperwork and doctors orders doctors notes from his office which some times don't exist because the doctors don't like to do all the documentation we the DME needs and follow us trying not to make our referal sources mad but trying still to retrive all we need from them. and then dealing with insurance companies and Medicare and Medicaid. You definatly get to where you want to pull your hair out and give up. If Medicare keeps cutting reimbursement DME's will close and then see if Medicare will pay for you to get your supplies over the internet and you will get no service which most all of the equipment needs to be serviced and repaired. Come spend a day in our world not just talking about things you know nothing about.

Sat, Oct 10, 2009 ET

FOX news employed reporters and commentators to dispense false and worthless information to keep us busy fighting it and wasting our time. Therefore, the HME industries must stay focus to take care of our consumers. As for Mr. Huddart (PT), you are clueless of the HME industries' business. I sincerely hope you are good as a "PT", because you are lost, and don't know anything in our HME world.

Sat, Oct 10, 2009 lr houston

Ihave to agree with Fox report. A power chair with tilt,recline and power elevating legs for $35000 dollars???? That is a rip off to the taxpayers of America.

Sat, Oct 10, 2009 Pam Pressel Denver, CO

The story is totally biased. If you buy a power chair on the internet- you pay cash/credit immediately. When you purchase through a dme dealer that bills medicare for you- the dealer has tons of servicing, documenting, chasing documentation from the PT's, Drs., other professionals. Unlike the Physical therapist from KC, MO, no one pays extra for those services. The allowable from Medicare is supposed to cover all those expenses. So- if the original COST to the dealer is $1500, the retail markup must be at least enough to cover the additional services. Since when do retailer or DME dealers or any other business need to do business as a cost only business? Who would ever be in business? The P/t's, clinicians, physicians, all get paid for their services. Dealers should be able to make a reasonable profit iin order to continue to provide those services. But now many dealers are leaving the medicare business simply because they cannot afford the increasing cost and obligations imposed on a tiny fraction of the medicare budget.

Sat, Oct 10, 2009 David San Antonio TX

Since when does anyone expect FOX "NEWS" to check facts? The reports from CNN aren't much better. Unfortunately, the system is just crazy enough to allow the real work that goes on in HME to go unnoticed or unrewarded. Let the reporter go to our local "cheap tool import company" and buy the wheelchair on display for 129.99 (maybe cost 9.99 to build with almost slave labor) and see how much rehab they get.

Fri, Oct 9, 2009 Berton Lafayette, LA

I would like to invite a reporter to a sit down for breakfast one morning before I start my day out. I will inform him that I am a licensed medical professional small business owner of a DME company who works one on one with almost all of our incoming patients. We are responsible for maintaining policy, procedure, and accreditation each day throughout the year. I have always worked every day prepared to assist with almost all DME products that are most commonly dispensed. My hope is to provide insightful information as to what my job consists of and what many other professionals who are working in a similar capacity as I am with their businesses. I am working hard each day to help in improving our country's healthcare system. I have many recommendations they may consider reporting on that are not being discussed. This open discussion could allow for possible fixes to an ailing system that is causing our nation's healthcare dollars to be unwisely spent.

Fri, Oct 9, 2009 Dan Huddart KC MO

I cannot disagree with FOx news. The rehab cost you talk about assoc with the *** of the wc is billed separately which adds even more to the cost. I am a PT and outraged each time I see the bill for a PMD. I am so happy FOX is bringing this to the public attention

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