Dear Medicare + Medicaid: Let’s Have a Conversation about Entrapment
If the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) could speak and listen to its customers on the subject of access to medical equipment, what might they hear?? Some might sum it up in one word: Entrapment.
Entrapment is a powerful word, but most of us in the industry understand it. For manufacturers, entrapment means that while we want to design products that improve our consumers’ quality of life, based on reimbursement rates, we struggle to produce them. For providers, entrapment means wanting to provide your aging seniors with first-class products and the highest level of service, but being limited as a result of reimbursement cuts and regulations like Competitive Bidding.
The people who suffer the most from entrapment are the Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries themselves.
The Impact of Medicare Entrapment
For seniors, entrapment means not having the same access to medical equipment they had before.
- They may have been waiting weeks, if not months, for their medical equipment as a result of the dwindling number of approved local providers.
- They are the ones forced to use inferior products because CMS has cut reimbursement on the products they need, leaving their providers no choice but to search out the most economical and sometimes poorly designed medical equipment.
However, we are given choices in life, and many beneficiaries are making the choice to be entrapped no longer.
Homecare Choices Exist Outside of Medicare
Whether you are the user of a product or buying it for a loved one, it is important to understand that you do have choices. While programs such as Medicare/Medicaid Competitive Bidding are designed to cut costs and save money, that savings should never be at the expense of your health and comfort.
Take a look at hospital beds in today’s market. Hospital beds remain one of the largest Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) items billed to Medicare and private pay insurance. And while Medicare covers only Semi-Electric for most beneficiaries, we are continuing to see an increase in requests for Full-Electric options.
We are also seeing increasing numbers of our providers selling hospital beds such as the Patriot LX for cash in a retail setting.
Why? Because consumers are making smarter choices for themselves and their loved ones.
They see the value of a bed with a sturdy grid deck sleep surface that will prevent the bed from sagging and provide optimal mattress support. They can appreciate the design of a bed in which not only comfort and function matter, but also aesthetics and its integration into your home.
Dealers’ Choice for Savvy Customers: Offer Better Options
Offering accessories such as FDA Compliant-to-Entrapment Bed Rails and Patient Alarms can also keep your loved one safer in the home.
But beds are not the only products where choices for Medicare beneficiaries are limited.
A favorite mobility device of our aging seniors is the rollator. As a result of the recent cuts in rollator reimbursement, the cost-saving options you see available now are steel rollators that are heavier to lift, rollators smaller in overall size, and rollators with smaller seats.
These cost savings come at the expense of the comfort, ease of use, and transport convenience of the consumers who use them. But again, consumers have a choice.
There are manufacturers who offer only low cost options, but there are other manufacturers who continue to offer models that appeal to consumers.
Color choices, size options, and overall aesthetics are just as important as product price.
The same could be said for many products used in the home, be it a walker, a bath seat, or even a wheelchair; we design products with quality, comfort and convenience in mind.
We understand that when it comes to family, you want to provide the best for them as well as keep them active and living in their home.
Make the choice to give them something better than what Medicare says “will suffice”.
Cynthia Counts is Vice President of Product Management & Homecare SBU at Graham-Field.
About GF Health Products, Inc.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with more than 300 US-based employees, GF Health Products, Inc. is a major manufacturer of healthcare products for the acute care, extended care, homecare and primary care markets. The Graham-Field family of brands includes Basic American Medical Products, Everest & Jennings, Grafco, Hausted, John Bunn, Labtron, Lumex and Lumiscope. Visit www.grahamfield.com or call 770-368-4700.