by Brook Raflo

Lubbock, Texas After more than two decades of business dealings, The MED Group and Invacare have parted ways, for now, according to David Miller, MED's chief executive officer.

Miller insisted the decision not to sign a contract with Invacare “had nothing to do with a failure or breakdown,” despite unsubstantiated reports to the contrary that appeared last week in the trade press.

Instead, MED based the decision solely on the results of a new “request for proposals” process, Miller explained. For the first time in MED's history, the organization late last year asked vendors to submit contract proposals in 15 product categories. During the months of January and February, MED evaluated the proposals and negotiated with each of the potential vendors, attempting to find the best possible balance for MED members and vendors, he said.

But Invacare saw the process differently, according to Susan Elder, Invacare's director of marketing communications.

“First of all, The MED Group failed to meet its contract with Invacare during the past two years, in terms of the sales commitment, so the fees that we paid to The MED Group were wasted,” she said. Second, “The MED Group would make no new sales commitment in a new contract, and that was a stumbling block in the negotiations.”

Elder went on to explain that Invacare's primary relationship is with the individual home medical equipment provider, and that Invacare is committed to nurturing that relationship. “We will continue to offer the best value proposition in the industry,” she said.

Defending The MED Group's business practices, Miller begged to differ with Elder. “We met all the terms of the contract [with Invacare], as they were agreed upon, during the three years of the contract.”

Although Miller did not close the door on the possibility of a future contract with Invacare, he said MED is focusing on the good news and hard work at hand. “The RFP process is working,” he said, pointing to MED's “lead partner” contract with Sunrise.

For its part, Invacare would like to assure HME providers that the company is putting the interests of the industry first. “Our [executive team] has combined industry experience of over 75 years,” Elder said. “Invacare will be here tomorrow.”

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