Home medical equipment providers who spoke with Home Health Products last week were unanimous in their advice for HMEs in the next wave of competitive bidding: don’t underestimate how much time it will take to gather product and financial information and enter the data into the online bidding system.
“Start early and give yourself plenty of time,” said Frank Trammell, who owns Carolina’s Home Medical Equipment in Charlotte, N.C. Trammell recounted the difficulty of tracking down detailed product information for every component of every item in each product category in which he bid. “Sometimes, I couldn’t even find the information,” he said.
Once providers compiled their product and financial data, they were unprepared for the monumental number of hours it took to get the data into CMS’ online bidding application. Trammell said he worked every day on the bid and kept at it when he went home at night. “You don’t want to let just anyone do this,” Trammell said. “So, I did it all myself. It literally took hundreds of hours.”
Trammel reminded future bidders to plan ahead to minimize the effect of bid preparation on their businesses. “It took me off stage for three solid months,” he said. “I didn’t see customers, I didn’t do anything but work on the bid.” He credits his employees with keeping the company’s operations running well during his absence, but said his business results would have been better had he not been so consumed by competitive bidding.
You can learn much more about the bidding experiences of HMEs in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Kansas in the October issue of Home Health Products.
Providers discuss how they coped with the widely reported problems with the online application, how they found time to prepare their bids while keeping their companies running, the challenge of calculating the financial information CMS requests in the bids, what they believe competitive bidding will do to the industry and Medicare beneficiaries when it is implemented nationwide.