Reporter’s notebook: Goal for 2018: ‘Make money, not lose it’

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

YARMOUTH, Maine – It turns out, “What’s one thing you plan to do differently with your business in 2018,” isn’t a very popular question to ask HME providers.

Only two dozen people responded to our most recent HME Newspoll, and some of them responded with tongue and cheek.

“As of January 2018, the state of California passed legislation for the legalization of recreational marijuana,” commented Bruce Sandler of Wishing U Well Medical in Granada Hills, Calif. “So this year, we’re considering adding marijuana to our retail products. We’ll include free samples with every purchase. It would probably be a lot more fun.”

If there were a theme to the paltry number of responses to the poll, it would be marketing-related. Paul Reses of Lincoln Medical Supply in Pleastantville, N.J., says he plans to enhance his company’s web presence and continually update its content to keep it “fresh.” ATP Roger Lichty of Mobility Connections in Rockford, Ill., says he plans to focus his attention on “payers willing to pay a fair price” for his skills and products. And an anonymous respondent says he plans to “engage with more prospects through expanded use of the telephone, personal visits and social media.”

One likely reason for the lack of responses to the poll: With what seems like unending assaults to reimbursement for Medicare, and now Medicaid, a number of respondents feel they’re hamstrung.

“We’re closing our doors,” commented K.C. Martin of SEMO Medical Equipment and Supply in Cape Girardeau, Mo. “It’s truly sad for beneficiaries, but I have gone long enough without pay, and far enough dipping into savings and my kid’s college account. Good luck to the remaining providers.”

Other respondents say they’re not going that far but it won’t be business as usual.

“We’re preparing for 2019, when the Medicaid hammer comes down, and we start turning people away, because there is no such thing as a non-assigned claim for Medicaid,” commented Dave Anderson of Anderson’s Medical in Terre Haute, Ind.

Another anonymous respondent says he plans to keep a “credit card on file for all equipment.”

Other responses to the poll indicate plans to “outsource as much as I can,” including delivery and billing; to expand a service area for certain product categories; and to increase participation in advocacy efforts.

One respondent kept it short and sweet: “Make money, not lose it.”