Medicare Reimbursements — The lowdown

Last month for those not in the know, CMS and Mick Mulvaney from from the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) released an IFR (Interim Final Rule) to fix reimbursements for medical supplies. At Howard’s, we are the last full-service medical supply with inventory to take care of all of Yakima and Kittitas County.   Fear not, we are in great financial shape as a company with no debt.  However, we would like the reimbursement situation fixed so we can hire more team members and better take care of our wonderful team members and patients.  Here is our official letter to CMS we posted last week:

The limited way this (IFR) was implemented makes it clear that this is nothing but a hollow token of sympathy towards the many local medical supplies that have shuttered in rural areas across the country.

It does nothing for the medical supplies who operate in large sprawling counties classified as non-rural, such as my own, that have many communities that are 20-40 miles distance from the nearest medical supply (40-80 mile round trip). Most of the surrounding counties are also rural with few to no options.

Going back to the blended rates for a few months for these communities is better than nothing, but is not much more than a band-aid on the end of a severed stump.

Meanwhile many of the high-needs low-income population in our region that the ACA purportedly intended to help will continue to suffer until a real fix is applied. Meanwhile Medicare Part A is going bankrupt, while Medicare Part B (projected to do just fine) continues to implement more and more cuts. I’ve heard more than one story of people who spend the extra night in one of our county’s more distant hospitals waiting for basic items to allow them to discharge because they don’t have a family member willing or able (it is easy to take transportation for granted) to drive the 40 mile round trip to pick up a walker ($46 Medicare rate), or a nebulizer ($5 Medicare rental). I wonder how many walkers and nebulizers it takes to pay for an extra night at the hospital?

Another neighboring county that had its local medical supply close down has communities of people 90 miles from my city, and 60 miles from their population center that no longer has any medical supplies that will service their area. What does that mean if you can’t get oxygen,a hospital bed, a wheelchair? A hospital or nursing home somewhere.

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