Change in Medical Supply Providers Worries Some

By Mike Green

Change in Medical Supply Providers Worries Some

June 18, 2010 Updated Nov 13, 2013 at 12:13 PM EDT

(Terre Haute, Ind.-AP) -- The state's plan to change the way that
Medicaid patients receive certain medical supplies has caregivers
and suppliers concerned that shortages could result.

However, the plan to consolidate distribution of incontinence,
catheter and ostomy supplies to one or just a few exclusive
statewide suppliers will save taxpayers money, said spokesman
Marcus Barlow of the Family and Social Services Administration.

Suppliers have until Aug. 23 to submit bids to supply the entire

"We're trying to increase value both for our clients and for
the taxpayers who are ultimately footing the bill for this,"
Barlow said. The state's plan will provide equal or better service to patients and their families, he said.

The current system with hundreds of different local suppliers
around the state does not deliver a uniform level of service and
costs 30 percent more than it should, Barlow said.

Others question the potential for savings.

"I don't believe it will save one penny," said Kamela Farmer,
a Terre Haute private care nurse whose patients include some who
cannot move.

Without local providers, patients and their caregivers will
resort to emergency rooms, costing the state more money, Farmer

The Association of Indiana Home Medical Equipment Services,
which opposes the state's plan, reports on its Web site that an
out-of-state company had been tapped by the state for the contract.
The Web site urged members to contact their legislators to oppose
the plan, called a Request For Proposal.

"This RFP not only harms Medicaid members, it will also harm
many providers," the industry group said in a news release earlier
this month. "Many of the companies that currently provide these
supplies are small, independent, local, family-run companies. Their
ability to stay in business will be at risk."

Under the proposed four-year, $8.8 million contract, more than
12,000 Medicaid beneficiaries would receive their supplies just
once a month, the group said.

Sue Olgus, whose 4-year-old grandson has autism and requires
incontinence products, said she wants to be able to buy supplies
locally. If the state wants to change, it should set up a system of
countywide distributors.

"This is Indiana," Olgus said. "Don't send it away."

Dave Anderson, owner of Anderson Medical Products in Terre
Haute, said it does not appear the plan makes provisions for
emergency supplies. Sometimes patients go through their supplies
faster than normal.

"I'm concerned that people are going to wind up in the
emergency room," Anderson said. "What good does that do?"

But Barlow said the state's plan would require any company
supplying the products to get them to people "when they need them,
where they need them and at the right price," Barlow said

The plan brings the state's purchasing power into play. The
state is the largest purchaser of these medical supplies in
Indiana, giving it the ability to negotiate lower costs.

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