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Suppliers say low costs could dramatically affect customers

By By Chris Cole
Published On: Apr 02 2014 09:38:36 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 02 2014 11:41:59 PM CDT

Maag Medical Supply in Pocatello is cutting back some supplies and may have to cut back staff if competitive bidding continues.

POCATELLO, Idaho -

Competitive bidding is a process that has occurred only in Boise, but medical suppliers in Pocatello are feeling the pressure of dropping costs so low they either severely limit their services or go out of business.

Aaron Durst in Respiratory Services at Maag Prescription and Medical Supply said competitive bidding has resulted in a drop of prices they can charge by 47 percent.  Durst said companies out of the state submit absurdly low bids, not caring whether they get the contracts or not, and that brings the median price companies can charge very low.

"Those of us who live here, who work here, who were raised here, put in some kind of reasonable bid," Durst said. " In the end they end up taking the median, which is just the middle number."

He said after that all the bidders are offered the contracts, and sometimes those who bid lowest reject the offer, but their bid still stands, keeping the low median number.  Durst said this means the cutting of several services and supplies Maag can provide.

"Which means I'm going to lose employees and we're going to lose the ability to provide better service," Durst said.  "We've already shrunk our service area down.  We don't go as far as we used to.  We've already limited some of the product supplies that we were doing.  We had liquid oxygen.  We no longer are doing that because we know what's coming and we can't afford it.  We literally can't afford it."

Durst said he's also concerned that a lot of the out of state businesses aren't very legitimate.

"There's not even any requirements for minimum standard of care," Durst said. "It's simply who will do it cheapest."

Durst said it's important to contact the Idaho representatives and tell them your concerns with this situation.

"We have people who have the power, they have the ability they have the leadership," Durst said, "We just need them to step up and say, 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.'"

Durst said a perfect example is on the Medicare.gov website (http://1.usa.gov/1dTcvHN) when looking at the suppliers who are contracted to service the Boise area.  Out of those on the list, less than half are in the Boise area.

Durst said this is concerning because it increases wait times for medical supplies.  He said the issue of healthcare should not be part of political games.

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