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Sen. Manchin visits Elkins area

September 10, 2012
The Inter-Mountain

During a visit to Elkins last week, several staff members from HomePlus and Davis Health System met with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to discuss legislation affecting patients and companies who provide home medical equipment and services.

Employees representing management, administration and clinical staff raised the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA), and Medicare's 36-month cap on oxygen equipment rental, both of which have greatly impacted reimbursement to home medical equipment providers.

Staff members also challenged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) new rules for Medicare audits which now require auditors to go back seven years to review Medicare claims.

Article Photos

Submitted photo
HomePlus Customer Service Representative Kelley Wilson takes a moment with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to express her concern about new Medicare policies that may adversely affect patient care.

"Claims that were perfectly within the submission guidelines and reimbursed seven years ago, are now being challenged because they don't meet today's guidelines," said Sandy Young, referral educator for HomePlus. "It's really frustrating."

"We need healthcare reform," Manchin said. "But it's not one size fits all. You all are the real world and we need your help fixing the areas that aren't working," he told the employees.

The meeting ended with discussion about CMS's National Competitive Bidding (NCB) process which formulates reimbursement rates for home medical equipment providers. Amy Wyatt, director of HomePlus, expressed concerns about the quality of patient care should rural areas like Randolph, Barbour and Tucker counties fall into NCB rates based on much larger metropolitan areas.

"If you compare providing home medical equipment and services in rural West Virginia to providing home medical equipment and services in a metropolitan area, you're just not comparing apples to apples," Wyatt said. "Our patients are spread out geographically so it takes more time and resources to provide their care."

"Ultimately patient care will suffer because of decreased access to healthcare, longer wait times and reduced frequency of delivery," she said.

Manchin toured the HomePlus facility in Elkins which includes the DME store, the oxygen transfilling station and the administrative and business offices.

Members of his Washington, D.C. staff are arranging follow up between the Senator and representatives from CMS.

Manchin is on the Senate Committee on Aging.

HomePlus provides home health care, home respiratory care and home medical equipment. It consists of two HME store locations and serves 14 counties.

They employ more than 40 people in the home health and home oxygen divisions. HomePlus is part of Davis Health System.



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