In like a lion


As Theresa and I put together our upcoming February issue this week, it has occurred to me that 2020 is not off to a bad start.

Just check out the front page lineup for the issue:

  • a new standard written order that replaces four other types of orders, which should result in streamlined documentation and reduced denials;
  • a pricing policy for accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs that has been reversed, which will result in improved rates for providers;
  • an M&A market that’s active, which will result in increased options for providers, not to mention increased attention from investors; and
  • an Invacare that’s rebounding in its 40th year in business and planning to launch more than a dozen new products this year, which will result in more diverse buying choices for providers.

Every one of these stories can be seen in a positive light.

The only thing (well, maybe not the only thing) that would make this front page better: a story on a bill passing to make permanent the 50/50 payments in rural areas and introduce 75/25 rates in non-bid, non-rural areas.

That’s still a work in progress.

And therein lies the rub with 2020: competitive bidding.

Late summer, early fall will likely be an inflection point for the industry: Will the rates for Round 2021 trend up as hoped, due to lead-item pricing and other changes to the program; or will they curve down, as they have in previous rounds?

We have five to eight months before we’ll find out.

So, in the meantime, let’s, as Miriam Lieber writes in a recent guest blog, simulate all possible outcomes: win a contract, don’t win a contract; win a contract, with higher rates; win a contract, with lower rates.

It’s a lot to unpack—start now.

Another good reason to start now: Things could get dicey in the back half of this year, with or without competitive bidding, as industry analysts point out in that story on M&A.

Who will win the presidential election?

Is there a looming recession?

As Brad Smith puts it, “Health care is not going anywhere, but what is bad for business, overall, is uncertainty.”

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, unless it’s to simulate all possible outcomes for Round 2021. Or to talk about any of the other items on Lieber’s checklist.

Let’s talk about anything, as long as it has nothing to do with lambs.