DME Supplier Impact Survey Results Strengthen Argument for Reform

Posted on in HME Government Issues

By Collin Brecher, VGM Government Relations

Over the past month, VGM Group, Inc. has been conducting the Supplier Impact Survey in an effort to provide policy makers on Capitol Hill with data on the real impacts of the nationwide rollout of competitive bidding and the drastic Medicare reimbursement cuts that have come with it. The survey was open to all suppliers regardless of their level of participation in the competitive bidding program in order for the largest eligible sample population.

Over 400 suppliers and practitioners from all over the country, coming from both urban and rural areas, participated and represented the DME, CRT, O&P and numerous other segments of the HME industry. The questions provided in the survey sought feedback as to who suppliers are serving, where the patients are located and the direct impacts on their business and patients from the competitive bidding program.

Survey Results Highlights - Impact of Competitive Bidding on Small Businesses

While CMS claims that competitive bidding has had zero negative impacts, a sample of 400 suppliers indicates the harsh reality of this program. Of those surveyed:

  • 91 percent “strongly agree” that the national rollout of competitive bidding has had a negative impact on their business.
  • 58 percent of respondents said between one and five positions have been eliminated due to competitive bidding, and an additional 14 percent have had to eliminate between 6-15 positions. This is an alarming statistic!

Survey Results Highlights - Impact of Bidding and Rural Rollout on Patients

Not only is patient access inevitably disrupted with fewer employees and locations to serve patients, the way that patient interaction takes place has also had to change. After the January implementation of competitive bidding nationwide, the program has spread into rural America. Of those surveyed:

  • 57 percent of respondents have at least 50 percent or more of their patient base in rural America. A concerning connection to the amount of business in rural America is how suppliers have been forced to reduce service areas in order to keep their doors open, forcing patients to travel long distances in order to receive equipment.
  • 74 percent of providers either are doing or plan to do more non-assigned claims because of the reimbursement cuts over the past six months.

What we’ve done with the data

This data has been spread throughout congressional offices in Washington, D.C., which warrants action as the July reimbursement rates must be rescinded, and a long-term replacement to the competitive bidding program must be put in place that does not produce negative outcomes where patients struggle to receive the equipment that they need.

While CMS continues to claim that all is well with competitive bidding, our survey shows otherwise.