WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 26, 2016)—The American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) has launched a new initiative to survey medical professionals and other individuals in the caregiving continuum to measure the impact of recent Medicare reimbursement cuts on seniors, as well as people with disabilities and chronic conditions. This survey comes in response to requests from home medical equipment (HME) companies for a comprehensive program to better document new challenges medical professionals face in getting equipment for their patients due to HME reimbursement rates falling precipitously under the Medicare competitive bidding program.

“Companies that provide essential products such as wheelchairs, oxygen, specialized beds and walkers have seen drastic rate reductions under Medicare’s competitive bidding program for home medical equipment,” explained George Kucka, president and CEO of Fairmeadows Home Health Center, in Schererville, Indiana. “Due to these severe cuts, many Medicare beneficiaries are having access problems and many HME companies have been forced to reduce their offerings in certain product categories, change service and delivery policies or close up shop altogether. We need to assess how these changes are affecting individuals who need home medical equipment, as well as the medical community providing and coordinating their care.”

To get a better picture of how these cuts may be affecting patients and their caregivers, AAHomecare is deploying a survey for medical professionals and related support staff (including hospital discharge planners, care managers and social workers) asking for information on their experiences in getting medically-necessary HME products for their patients in a timely manner. The brief survey gives medical professionals the opportunity to share their perspectives on issues they may have faced on account of reduced availability of HME in a changing competitive environment.

Kucka, a member of AAHomecare’s board of directors, is playing a leadership role in helping develop this survey following on his own efforts to survey local medical professionals and caregivers about their experiences getting HME for their patients.

“My company has been regularly surveying medical professionals on their experiences in getting HME for their patients since competitive bidding took effect,” added Kucka. “Contrary to the claims of CMS, physicians, discharge planners and other caregivers have registered increased frustration in securing HME products and services in a timely fashion, if at all, since the onset of the program. I’m sure the latest round of cuts will prove even more disruptive to the process and put additional strains on access.”

HME Suppliers Encouraged to Share Survey With Referral Sources
HME companies nationwide, whether AAHomecare members or not, are encouraged to share the survey and related information with the medical professionals and related support and discharge staff in their communities. A printable version of the survey is available at aahomecare.org/caresurvey; suppliers may also share an online version of the survey with case managers.

The Association plans to use the data to support legislative efforts to demonstrate the effects of recent deep cuts for Medicare reimbursement stemming from the rates created by the latest round of the competitive bidding program, both for companies located in competitive bidding areas, as well as those in rural and non-bid areas that are subject to pricing derived from the program.

For more information on the survey, contact Ashley Plauché, manager of government relations at AAHomecare, at ashleyp@aahomecare.org.

Visit aahomecare.org for more information.