Mo. Providers Meet with CMS’s Blum
Medicare director fields various questions from HMEs, others in meeting at hospital.
- By David Kopf
- May 30, 2012
More than 100 providers, including members of The VGM Group, Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services, and other healthcare industry stakeholders met with CMS Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center of Medicare at CMS Jonathan Blum last week in the lobby of Washington County Memorial Hospital in Potosi, Mo.
During the May 21 meeting, Blum heard concerns about patient access, cost-shifting, calls to 1-800-MEDICARE, audits, job loss and business closures in the HME industry. The event was arranged by Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (MO-R) working with VGM member Pat Naeger, executive vice president of Healthcare Equipment & Supplies Co.
“Jo Ann gets it and completely understands,” said Naeger, also a MAMES executive committee member. “She wrote several letters to Blum and finally talked to him personally to invite him to come to Washington County. It was a rare opportunity for our industry.”
Blum was “very, very cordial. He is a decent guy, but the most disappointing thing is that he doesn’t see anything wrong with competitive bidding,” Naeger continued. “He thinks everything is going really well and CB is working like it should. That’s his opinion and the information he is being given. He said ‘Pat, you call me anytime or email me. We spent three hours together, and my parting words to him, in addition to ‘thank you for coming’ were, ‘I’ll put together a team of people to solve some of these problems. We think there are better solutions and better ways to save money.’”
Naeger emphasized that competitive bidding is an urban model, not designed for rural areas that would require a metropolitan provider to drive 30 miles to deliver a wheelchair. As an example, a hospital discharge planner at the meeting noted that a patient being released from the Potosi hospital with prescriptions for oxygen, a CPAP, a hospital bed and a wheelchair could have four different providers located over 8,600 square miles in the St. Louis CBA.
“With the model we have today, most of us are one-stop shops, so the discharge planner and the patient do not have to deal with the paperwork from four different suppliers,” Naeger explained.
Also attending the event were Colin Hoyer, VGM regional account manager for Missouri, and Tom Powers of VGM Government Relations and Strategic Media Ltd.
“Pat did an excellent job putting this event together, and spoke very well about the problems of NCB, and in particular, rural America’s problems with it,” Powers noted. “Blum often returned to his talking points about not having data to support providers’ concerns.”
David Kopf is the Editor of HME Business.