National Bid Expand Created Widespread Difficulties in HME Access

Advanced highlights from report show that 52 percent of Medicare beneficiaries had trouble accessing HME since July 1, 2016.

Fifty-two percent of Medicare beneficiaries are reporting that they have had difficulties in obtaining HME since July 1, 2016, when national expansion of competitive bidding entered full implementation, according to preliminary results from the Patient Access Survey.

The American Association for Homecare commissioned healthcare research group Dobson DaVanzo & Associates to carry out the survey, which collect perspectives from HME providers, Medicare beneficiaries, caregivers and hospital discharge planners and staff on how competitive bidding has impacted access to HME.

Dobson DaVanzo released a two-page collection of report highlights and charts that includes a variety of data points that confirm various experts’ and economists’ opinions that the bid program would hurt patient access to HME. Some key findings:

  • 77 percent of case managers or discharge planners said they have experienced difficulties with the ease and timeliness of the discharge process for their patients who require HME since July 1, 2016.
  • 81 percent said they have experienced an increase in patient complaints about their access to HME and supplies, or complaints about an increase in out-of-pocket expenses in acquiring HME and supplies since July 1, 2016.
  • 59 percent of oxygen patients reported they had experienced difficulties with access to oxygen-related HME and services provided by their suppliers since July 1, 2016.

The summary also included some qualitative responses from patients and caregivers, including one case manager, who said, “I have been a therapist since 1991 and have never been so unable to do my job. Being in homecare, we are the last person/profession in with these clients, and they are depending on us to get them the equipment they need to be safe … This Medicare system is broken beyond repair.”

Most recently, various representatives from the American Association for Homecare recently met with CMS officials to share updated findings from its Patient Access Survey that demonstrate difficulties patients and other stakeholders are experiencing due to competitive bidding.

“Preliminary findings from the report have been very important in our engagements with regulators and Capitol Hill in recent weeks, and the full report should prove to be very useful in efforts to secure longer-term fixes to the bidding system,” read a statement from AAHomecare. “Thanks to the hundreds of HME suppliers and other stakeholders who shared their input and publicized the survey to beneficiaries and case managers, helping us exceed survey participation goals several times over. We will share the full report after a final review is completed.”

About the Author

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


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