Group of Round 2 bidders cry foul

 - 
Friday, April 6, 2012

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Facebook and LinkedIn lit up last week with posts from disgruntled home medical equipment providers that claim Agape Medical Management dropped the ball in submitting their bids for Round 2.

As a result, these providers now face the possible reality of losing a good chunk of their Medicare business.

"It's one thing not to get a contract because your prices were too high," said Tina Jaspan, owner of Jaspan Medical, based in Jackson, Tenn. "It's another thing to pay money to a company that puts themselves out there as an expert and not get all of your bids submitted."

The bid window for Round 2 closed at 9 p.m. EST on March 30. Providers across the country submitted bids for nine product categories in 91 areas.

These providers told HME News they contracted with Agape Medical, at a price tag of anywhere from $5,000 to more than $10,000, to oversee the bid process for them. That meant, among other things, collecting the required information and entering it into DBidS, the online bid system; gathering and submitting the appropriate financial documents; and supplying tools to help them come up with bids, like bid calculators.

For these providers, who were anxious about the process or who didn't have the time to commit to the process, it was a relief to hand over their information and let Agape Medical take over.

"I could have done it myself, but my fiance had just received fatal news, and I knew I wouldn't be able to concentrate on it," said a provider who asked not to be named for fear of losing referral sources and patients. "I thought, 'What's $8,000 to make sure the bids are done correctly?'"

The charges of these providers range from lack of communication (providers claim it took numerous phone calls and emails to get a response, if they got a response at all) to breach of contract (providers claim they went into DBidS in the last days of bidding, only to find out that none, or only some, of their information had been entered into the system).

"I guess shame on us for trusting a company to do this for us," said another provider who asked not to be named.

Some providers were able to jump into the bid system themselves at the last minute and salvage some of their bids. Provider Mike Kernes planned to submit bids for seven product categories in four areas; he was able to salvage a bid for one product category in two areas.

"I went in there and the bids were totally incomplete," said Kernes, general manager at Reliable Medical in Hackensack, N.J. "The only thing I could do was try to enter some stuff myself, but when you have so many codes for a lot of the product categories, there's only so much you can do."

Agape Medical disputes the charges.

"Our initial review indicates...all clients who timely provided Agape with the required information had their bids timely received by Medicare," stated Jerry Kaplan, an attorney representing Agape Medical, in an April 5 letter.

But these providers stand by their stories and they want recourse. Their options include, according to healthcare attorney Jeff Baird: 1.) filing a lawsuit based on breach of contract or some other charge; or 2.) notifying a district attorney's office, state attorney general's office or the U.S. Department of Justice for possible investigation.

"A third course of action would be to just throw themselves at the mercy of the CBIC to extend the bid window," said Baird, chairman of the Health Care Group at Brown & Fortunato in Amarillo, Texas. "Because, when all of this is said and done, the first two options aren't particularly satisfying, because they still don't allow you to bid."

The problem with extending the bid window, however--and Baird acknowledges this--is that you'd be creating a separate set of rules for a group of providers.

"It's extremely unlikely that the CBIC or CMS will extend the bid window," said Mark Higley, vice president of development for The VGM Group, who heard from a handful of affected members last week. "The rest of the HME community, which did submit their bids on time, would be extremely upset."

Agape Medical asks that inquiries be emailed to kapkenkd@pacbell.net with the subject line "agape bid inquiry."

Links: 

Comments

We paid dearly into Agape with the assurance that they were associated with Invacare and therefore reputable! We were wrong.<br />
Eventually we decided to move forward without them and attempted to get a refund for work they did not perform. We have been stonewalled.<br />
This should be a bullet for Agape and a severe black eye for Invacare.<br />

I was told by one consultant that two companies spent 50k with the company. They completely under estimated what it took to handle bidding in round 2 basing it off of the required staffing of round 1 which was far less work. One company was told that they had a team of 4 people, 4 PEOPLE dedicated to their account because of how many msas and categories they had. Come to find out only one user from agape was going to be entering the info. Come to find out that 48 hours of bid closing agape stated generically "some bids were too high and some bids were two low" this company spent $$$$ not 5 or 10k. Call cheryl at home and on her cell phone until she answers because she absconded with a lot of money and is hiding under the corp vale - if we could collect could you say class action

I made full payment in November and Agape was still calling my Office to enroll for Competitive bidding assistance in February. They even called me to make my monthly payment in late February also. I had to fax the proof of payment to them. With these, how are my sure they were working on my behalf? Very disappointed. They did not return my calls three days to closing.

I can't even begin to explain my experience with Agape. I was lied to about cost, swindled, not responded to, belitted for calling for advice, given FAKE tracking numbers for hard copy documentation, given incorrect information regarding my bid. They didn't help, they hurt our chances, BIGTIME. The only way My company pulled off a bid was by hiring a second consultant and sending in a second set of hard copies to CBIC on our own. Cheryl the CEO should face jail time along with the rest of the employees who went along for the ride. You all know what you did and I pray Karma comes full circle.

along with CLIFF BERRY AND HIS WIFE. BRIAN HEMOVITZ!!

BEWARE OF EAGLE CONSULTING GROUP

Call Peter Kaplan at Invacare Supply Group and explain to him your experience working with Agape. My assistant working with Agape was hung up on and told not to call back. We were locked out of the bidding process and none of our oxygen for Round 2 even was submitted. We wasted time, and money, but were given terrible customer service and our paper work was lost on two occasions. Peter Kaplan will give you the name of their attorney who would love to hear from all the Providers who missed their bidding were lied to, treated poorly, and who's business has been adversely affected by this fiasco, The more people come together to complain about this horrible treatment the more likely something can be done. Peter explained that Agape's goal was to sign up 1000 clients. According to his knowledge they had signed up around 400 DME providers. If everyone was charged between 5-10,000 do the math. Agape made a boat load and now will not answer anyone call or return emails. Seems that they have lawyered up and are in hiding. No one not even any answering service answers their phones. I was told a actual fist fight ensued at their place of business with a very unhappy client, so it could be that they are hiding for good reason. However, not to return phone calls is very unprofessional. Bryan Vallejo, our Team 4 advisor apologized to me on a few occasions and admitted that no one had updated my file because they had people quit and they dropped the ball. So, my staff kept sending the same paperwork over and over. Agape's Facebook page was riddled with unhappy providers/clients and they took it down. Write into HME News and call Invacare with Peter Kaplan who endorsed Agape. I was told to call Riverside California District attorney's office. Call your congressman....

ALL THE MONEY THEY TOOK?? HOW EASY IT IS TO START A WHOLE NEW COMANY 'EAGLE CONSULTING'

BRIAN HEMOVITZ AND CLIFF BERRY WERE PART OF THIS SCAM!!! ATTORNEY THINKS THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH THIS?

News Stories

Invacare Supply Group and Agape Medical Management Enter Mutual Marketing Agreement

A mutual marketing agreement to offer medical providers a complete "Bid to Billing" solution for Round 2 of National Competitive Bidding (NCB) was recently reached by Milford, Mass-based Invacare Supply Group (ISG), a division of Invacare Corporation, and Agape Medical Management of Riverside, Calif.

Cheryl Ward, CEO of Agape Medical Management, expounds upon the mutual marketing decision and says, "Combining our efforts with ISG offers providers the best solution possible to successfully manage and complete the rigorous and time-consuming bidding process while maintaining the necessary service levels their patients have come to expect."

The combination of Agape Medical Management's working relationships with various state and federal government agencies to ensure the submission of necessary documentation and ISG's "best value" pricing for name brand product with low fixed freight cost, provides what Cheryl Ward, CEO of Agape, says is, "The best solution possible to successfully manage and complete the rigorous and time-consuming bidding process while maintaining the necessary service levels [providers'] patients have come to expect,"

Doug Harper, vice president and general manager for ISG, reiterates the benefits that the mutual marketing offers providers, as both companies are focused on helping customers develop a viable and profitable solution for competitive bidding that they can work long term. Harper adds that by working with Agape Medical Management, "we provide a complete solution for Round 2 of NCB that we can offer our 13,000-plus customers."

Source(s): Invacare Supply Group, Agape Medical Management

We also used Agape. Wow. Worst experience EVER. Unresponsive employees who often didn't return calls for days. Snapped at me when I was trying to understand their process. Continually asked me for documents that had been turned in, even though they had previously confirmed that they had previously received them. Put my bids in WRONG. Luckily, I reviewed on the last day, and was able to fix them...but if I hadn't checked, it would have been radically off. Their webcasts were pretty good; but everything else was extraordinarily poor. Excel spreadsheets sent to us to put in our bid had formula errors, but they couldn't be fixed as they were locked; good lucky getting Agape to correct them in a timely manner. Would get system-driven emails indicating something wasn't yet received (when it was already turned in); when I tried to follow-up, never heard any response at all.

As I said, worst experience I could imagine anyone having.

Agape is a money hungry, selfless, scam! They are very unprofessional, and have no right to call themselves "experts." Upon my numerous complaints, management refused to ever get on the phone with me directly. Instead of following through with numerous promises, they failed to even complete the initial work that was to be done. Companies are now at risk, thanks to Agape, of losing their businesses, homes, etc. They are highly understaffed, making it impossible to complete "400" clients bids.Agape will continue to deny these accusations until something is done!

Competitive bidding was hard enough but to be robbed by Agape in addition to all the stress, has been horrible, paid too much money, would like a refund, they were just horrible, and they did not keep their part of the contract! They never returned any calls, the BID team, supposedly assigned did not have a clue of what was going on, the phone operators hung up on you, the so called president never responded to complaints, I think that Cheryl Ward and all the "Wards for the company are irresponsible and did not prepare at all for this "TASK" The licensing was never on their list of tasks, the BID manager stated we needed Nevada, to be in the Nevada board meeting, one week before the meeting!!!!!!!! Then two weeks before March 30th, they told me I needed licensing for another 8 states!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My BID went in but will I get it, WOW!! I called and called and called and called and then emails and emails.... no response for the last two weeks at all, I had to go into the CBIC myself and try to figure out what to do, none of the info I provided was in correctly... I manage thirteen sites, this is why I requested help and was referred to Agape by ISG, but this has been ridiculous and I want my money back!!!! They should pay all the clients back fort he false information and lack of work ethic! 

look it up

We had the same issues as every body else has mentioned. My question now is any one going to get a lawyer together for a class action or are we all going to get our own lawyers?

IT SEEMS AS IF EVERYONE HAD THE SAME PROBLEM AND I MYSELF ASKED  THE SAME QUESTION I THINK THAT PEOPLE WITH THE SAME PROBLEM SHOULD GET TOGETHER AND ACTUALLY GET A LAWYER BUT GATHER A GROUP OF PEOPLE SO THAT THE LAWYER CAN SEE THAT IT AFFECTED A HAND FULL OF US. IF YOU ARE WILLING TO WORK TOGETHER ON THIS PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME.

I just wanted to validate the comments of everyone else, as I have had the same horrible experience.  I am all in for a class action and I have just contacted Jeff Baird of Brown and Fortunato to see if they have enough providers to initiate a class action.    Dont forget to contact your congress person and the local and state authorities!

I AM LOOKING INTO A LAWYER BECAUSE I MYSELF HAD A CHANCE AT GETTING A CONTRACT BUT DID NOT. DUE TO AGAPE NOT SUBMITTING MY BIDS! SAME THING HAPPEND WE CALLED AND CALLED AND NO ONE ANSWER WE SENT THEM E-MAILS  ASKING THEM IF THEY WERE GOING TO SUBMITT OUR BIDS AND NO REPLY IF ANYONE IS WILLING ON JOINING TOGETHER WITH A LAWYER PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTATCT ME OR COMMENT ON THE POST. I BELIVE THAT IF WE GET A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE WE CAN ACTUALLY GET SOMEWHERE WITH THIS .

<p>I understand all of these suppliers frustration who worked with Agape. I agree that getting a lawyer, and making sure this company is put out of business would be the most logical thing to do. However, the people banking on getting &quot;reimbursed&quot; or thinking there will be some lump sum of cash at the end of it will not be so happy. DME Suppliers will not see any of their money back Cheryl Ward has already spent a ridiculously huge amount of money on her 20 YEAR old son&#39;s wedding....getting a custom made Vera Wang dress for his &quot;wife to be.&quot; Not to mention the numerous vacations, and house renovations to be done. This company should be put out of business, and in a major way. The Wards are NOT good people, they do not deserve a lavish life style. They scam innocent people looking for help. They will continue to use the excuse that suppliers did not give them the correct documentation, but the issue really just was it was so uncredibly unorganized with the high volume of paperwork going into them they just couldnt possibly handle it. Agape DROPPED THE BALL in a major way. I will sit back and laugh as they struggle to make a living for themselves in the future, and wish nothing but the best for the suppliers who were very saddened by Agape&#39;s mistakes. This company will surely be sorry for the mistakes they made if all suppliers go through with a lawsuit.</p>

A-Z Medical Supply

 

Complaint Against Agape

 

            My company is called A-Z Medical Supply. We are located in Arlington Heights, IL. We have been working with AGAPE since 2008. AGAPE is a company that helps and provides support for DMEPOS (Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies) suppliers with competitive bidding for MEDICARE. AGAPE completely let us down in terms of support and help. A couple of days before the bidding calculators were due, we tried contacting AGAPE but seldom did anyone pick up the phone.  As a result we did not make it into round two of the competitive bidding, thus losing a good chunk of Medicare Business. We contracted with Agape Medical at a price of $21,500 to oversee the bid process for us. That meant, among other things, collecting the required information and entering it into DBids, the online bid system; gathering and submitting the appropriate financial documents; and supplying tools to help us come up with bids, like bid calculators. For those providers, who were anxious about the process or who didn’t have the time to commit to the process, it was a relief to hand over their information and let Agape Medical take over. We were in the middle of an IRS audit, which was a long and tedious process. Every year was analyzed backdating to 2008. We struggled to keep up with the audit and run a business simultaneously and thus receiving help from AGAPE was encouraging. Not too long before everything was due, we discovered a line of incomplete entries in the afternoon, we still hesitated to go in and do the entries ourselves. We did not want to sign in to the system, and potentially block them and ruin their work. With a half hour to go we got into the system and still nothing was entered. Time ran out but we still continued to try and do something. When we tried to push save, it said ‘out of time’ thus going through as incomplete. We tried to reach the consultants numerous amount of times through phone calls and e-mails etc… They just disappeared and were nowhere to be found. Apparently many other companies have also faced the wrath of AGAPE; there have been many complaints about AGAPE not submitting others into the round two of competitive bidding. After some scrutiny we have came upon interesting news that our case, is a little different. There is another company in this area that has a similar name to us; they are called A2Z Medical Supply. AGAPE has sent them my bidding calculator for them to submit. All of our prices, information, and efforts went to the wrong DME Supply. This represents how unorganized AGAPE can be.  AGAPE claims, "Our initial review indicates...all clients who timely provided Agape with the required information had their bids timely received by Medicare," stated Jerry Kaplan, an attorney representing Agape Medical, in an April 5 letter. We however did submit everything in a timely fashion. In the end we did not make it into round two of competitive bidding. There must be some sort of breach of confidentiality or breach of contract in this matter. They were not allowed to give another company all of our information. This is not fair and justice must be served!

<p>I understand all of these suppliers frustration who worked with Agape. I agree that getting a lawyer, and making sure this company is put out of business would be the most logical thing to do. However, the people banking on getting &quot;reimbursed&quot; or thinking there will be some lump sum of cash at the end of it will not be so happy. DME Suppliers will not see any of their money back Cheryl Ward has already spent a ridiculously huge amount of money on her 20 YEAR old son&#39;s wedding....getting a custom made Vera Wang dress for his &quot;wife to be.&quot; Not to mention the numerous vacations, and house renovations to be done. This company should be put out of business, and in a major way. The Wards are NOT good people, they do not deserve a lavish life style. They scam innocent people looking for help. They will continue to use the excuse that suppliers did not give them the correct documentation, but the issue really just was it was so uncredibly unorganized with the high volume of paperwork going into them they just couldnt possibly handle it. Agape DROPPED THE BALL in a major way. I will sit back and laugh as they struggle to make a living for themselves in the future, and wish nothing but the best for the suppliers who were very saddened by Agape&#39;s mistakes. This company will surely be sorry for the mistakes they made if all suppliers go through with a lawsuit.</p>

My company used Agape as well.  First, we were told that the payments  could be installments with the last payment being due on March 30.  By mid-March, I had not received my bid calculator (needed to determine my bid pricing in order for Agape to submit the bid).  When I called, I was told that I couldn't have the bid calculator because my last payment had not been made.  The girl said, "Well technically the payment isn't due until the 30th but we can't give out the bid calculator until the payment is made." No problem, we made the payment - but the bid calculator didn't surface for another couple of days.  So I ended up with only a few days to get my bid pricing ready - again no problem, because I had an idea of what I wanted to bid on many items anyway.  So my bid was submitted on time.  The problem for us was that the Financial paperwork was not sent in on time.  Agape says that they mailed about 100 customers during the last week - some sent overnight- and that the post office did not get the paperwork there on time.  So - it is the post office's fault - not theirs.  My Financial papers were given to Agape when requested - I don't know why they weren't mailed earlier.  I contacted CBIC and they said it doesn't matter - too late to bid.  I have been in contact with my senator and congressman to see if they can do something for us.

I appreciated Agape's system of tasks - it gave me good guidance as to what to do next.  The problem was that they did not have due dates listed so I kept having to call or email and ask if I was on track or not.  I had contracted with them to help keep me on track and to make sure I had what I needed when I needed it. 

I will say that I had a post office problem with my licensing paperwork that was due on May 1.  I sent it overnight through USPS on Friday 4/27 - and surprise - it arrived on May 2.....  I may be able to argue with the NSC about this because apparently USPS tried to deliver on May 1 but no one was there to receive the package at 12 noon..?

We too were supposed to recieve a "bid Calculator" because they would not accept our Task 6. After I spent days completing it. Our Bid Team told us to make some changes, when I did, they said they were no longer accepting Task 6. She told us an email was sent (which we did not receive) and also that she only found out herself, 3 days after this alleged email was sent. They are so incompetent!

Our Company used Agape as well and had a similar experience. They are unprofessional, unreliable and incompetent.  After accepting our payment they failed to submit our bid on time. They never answered the phone, replied to emails, or returned messages that were unrealted to payment. When I did reach a rep from our Bid Team, she would joke and laugh about how frustrated we sounded in our VM msgs. I emailed completed "Tasks" to them and they never opened the files until I would call to follow up. Of course that follow up phone call required days and hours of our own manpower just to get through.

I wish that CMS would consider an extension. I would consider joining a lawsuit that would help all of us to get our payments returned and put this company out of business. We contacted a lawyer who suggested that we write to our congressman, which we did. We also contacted Invacare and the VGM Group who recommended this shameful company to us. I think it's time to take action further.

My company llike everyone else has been burn by Agape, we where going to file an individual law suit but if there is a class action law suit please let me know so we can all get together and take them out of business. Please e-mail me with any class cation law suit informantion at amrotg@yahoo.com thanks.

 

beware of EAGLE CONSULTING GROUP!!!!

These people think they can rob all of us providers and close down and open a new company!!!!

 beware of Eagle Consulting Group! Research any company that is going to be doing bids for anyone!