Mont. Providers Urged to Attend SBA Hearings

July 21, 23 forums will give local HME providers an opportunity to publicly voice their concerns regarding audits, competitive bidding expansion.

The U.S. Small Business Administration will sponsor two Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Roundtable discussions during July, and The Big Sky Association of Medical Equipment Suppliers and The VGM Group are encouraging HME providers to attend.

The first discussion will be held on July 21 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center, 2310 University Way, Building 2, Bozeman, Mont. The second hearing will be July 23, at the University of Great Falls-Absolon Lounge, 1301 20th St. South, Great Falls, Mont.

The purpose of the hearing is to give small business owners an open forum to comment on regulatory compliance issues and government policies and programs they are facing. The SBA’s National Ombudsman for Small Business, Brian Castro, will attend.

Bearing that in mind, a statement from VGM and Big Sky AMES called on providers in the area are encouraged to attend the discussion and speak about the challenges of audits and the current plan to implement competitive bid area prices in rural areas.

 “The audit and appeal process of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has had crippling effects on DMEPOS suppliers across the United States,” said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for VGM Group Inc. “These providers are experiencing frivolous audits by contractors hired by CMS to analyze claims.

“The current number of backlogged audits is more than 870,000, meaning providers could be forced to wait several years to receive payment on a piece of equipment that has already been provided to a Medicare beneficiary,” Gallagher continued. “With crucial cash flow of these small businesses being held up in the audit process, owners have the challenge of keeping employees on the payroll and providing patients with equipment upgrades.”

Additionally, since CMS will expand the competitive bidding program nationally in 2016, providers will face an average reimbursement cut of 46 percent. This represents a considerable concern for rural providers that will not have the opportunity to attempt to regain a portion of those lost revenues by increasing their volume.

“The Competitive Bid program is anything but competitive and it is decimating the most affordable forms of health care we have,” said Alesha Rate, vice president of Big Sky AMES.  

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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