The next few months are going to bring some interesting changes to the mobility equipment acquisition process, and you may find some real savings if you bring a pile of cash to the table.
In process for over a year now, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) new competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS) is expected to slash CMS payments by as much as 45%.
Mobility equipment providers had already been expecting cuts in the 32-35% range and even at that rate, a number of the smaller companies had been considering closure.
Right now, CMS payments in behalf of over 100 million beneficiaries makes them the largest consumer of durable medical equipment. This includes mobility scooters, power wheel chairs, oxygen equipment, hospital beds and walkers.
Many suppliers of home-use medical equipment are reeling under the prospects of such cuts to the income side of their budgets and are searching for alternatives.
Some providers are taking a “plan B” approach and putting emphasis on cash sales.
According to HME News, the business newspaper for Home Medical Equipment suppliers, some radical plans are under consideration. Some businesses will close, while others are looking for alternative funds and big discounts.
There are many stores and vendors that will provide substantial discounts for paying for a good upfront in cash. Hard, immediate money is usually preferred to credit and debit cards, which charge a fee, and government fund assurances, which can take some time to process. Said one supplier, “We’re going to tell customers, we can’t take Medicare for this, so we can either refer you to someone else or we can give you such and such a discount if you pay cash. We’re not going out of business when July 1 hits.”
Seniors and others who are just beginning the mobility challenged ride would be well suited to keep in mind, there’s no free ride. Contrary to marketing claims, the majority of assisted mobility costs in the future will not be borne by CMS.