Trump mostly falls short in first year, respondents say

Friday, February 23, 2018

YARMOUTH, Maine – A little more than half of respondents to a recent HME Newspoll say President Donald Trump hasn’t had a positive impact on their businesses in his first year in office, largely because none of the changes he has made have anything to do with reforming Medicare’s competitive bidding program.

“I support this administration, but (the Department of Health and Human Services) needs to fix rural reimbursement,” wrote Bob Forbes of Advantage Home Oxygen in Dubois, Pa. “I’ve already watched one local (company) close and everyone else has downsized to the point of (threatening) patient safety.”

Fifty-one percent of respondents said the first year of a Trump administration has not had a positive impact on their businesses.

For the 49% respondents who reported Trump has had a positive impact, many credited tax reform.

“For the 2018 filling year, we should see a decrease to our taxes, in part due to the 20% deduction that will be allowed,” said one respondent. “This will help offset the low reimbursement we continue to deal with.”

Respondents also credited tax reform for everything from salary increases (“It may not have happened without it,” wrote Angela Fisher of Greene Respiratory Services in Milford, Ohio) to cash sale increases.

“The overall optimism in the economy has made it easier to sell the bigger-ticket items,” wrote one respondent.

But for the majority of respondents, it’s hard to see past the destruction caused by the bid program, something that could continue under Trump. A recently released HHS budget* for fiscal year 2019 proposes implementing an actual bid process in rural areas, a move that the agency says will save billions of dollars over 10 years.

“If they do not provide relief with the IFR or H.R. 4229, there will be a drastic loss of rural providers,” wrote one respondent. “I see where HHS now wants to conduct competitive bidding in rural areas—what a joke. As if there is $6.5 billion more to save. Our government is bent on destroying DME businesses and is doing a good job of that.”

Indeed, there may be some disappointment among the 64% of respondents to an HME Newspoll back in September 2016 who said they would vote for Trump, believing he would bring a business perspective to health care.

“I know that many people voted for Trump, believing that he was going to save the DME industry, but that hasn’t been the case,” wrote one respondent. “We have seen no appreciable change and don’t anticipate seeing one. Empty promises, as usual.”