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Archive for September, 2018

Handi Medical is going strong

Tuesday, September 18, 2018 @ 10:09 AM  posted by jbuytaert

by  // September 8th, 2018

Thirty years ago Mary Miller was studying nursing and working as a personal care assistant to Darcy Pohland, a Twin Cities reporter who had broken her neck in a diving accident. When Miller called for medical supplies, she would often have to wait two weeks for delivery. When a wheelchair needed repair, she was told it would be a month-long wait.

Upset at the length of time it took for services and products to be delivered, Miller thought there had to be a better way. “If you think you can do it better, do it yourself,” her grandfather told her. He loaned her $15,000 to start Handi Medical Supply in Golden Valley.

That business has expanded to 110 employees, a central location at 2505 University Ave. W., St. Paul and a Mankato branch. But the mission to enrich lives is the same one Mary (Miller) Benhardus began with. She and her husband Shann co-own the medical supply company that has endured and prospered over the past three decades.

Handi hasn’t forgotten its roots, as three conference rooms are named after people who have made a difference in company history. One honors Mary’s grandfather, who loaned her the money to start the business; one is named after company inspiration Pohland, and one is named after Charlie Smith Jr., founder of Access Press.

The showroom of Handi Medical Supply is expanding from 5,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet once remodeling is done, said Laurie Tomaszewski, chief marketing officer. She was hired as a respiratory therapist 13 years ago.

Requests for supplies typically come through a clinic, a transition care unit or a home care nurse. With a larger showroom, more client people can view a needed product and pick it up or have it delivered that same day.

“The company started out very small, working with people who used wheelchairs,” Tomaszewski said. “Today we have everything for any kind of ostomy. We carry any kind of wound supplies, catheters, adult incontinence supplies. We have CPAP products, supplies for tracheotomies.”

Handi recently started its Handi Home Living Solutions division to provide home modifications. “We do so much with complex rehab and wheelchairs,” Tomaszewski said. “If people have a chair and need to get in and out of their home, we remodel the home, do the bathrooms and showers.” An assistant technology professional visits the home to see what is needed.

“We think the right thing to do is to have people who are properly trained so we can help people to be well and be safe in their homes,” Tomaszewski said.

Keeping any business growing with the same owners and name is a feat in itself, but another challenge are Medicare regulations. A concern is that the regulations affect product quality, a key focus for Handi.

“Medicare, in all its glory, a few years ago came out with a program called competitive bidding,” Tomaszewski said. “For certain product lines we had to fill out a request for proposal and say what we would be able to be paid for these items. But it was not guaranteed you would get that price. There were nine categories offered, but we would not be able to offer a quality product, so we turned some down.”

“It looks like this program may be going away next year, but Medicare is not willing to do anything with the pricing. I think Medicare has been hearing there are access issues, and some people have been waiting for weeks to get items. They need to do something, but will it be enough? A lot of small businesses have had to close their doors because of what Medicare has done.” But Handi has persevered. Many of its employees have been working for decades. “Five years ago we won the Better Business Bureau Integrity Award, and we were nominated again this year,” Tomaszewski said.

A strong focus on supporting and rewarding employees is paired with an equally strong focus on clients and disability groups. Handi recently raised about $10,000 for the National MS Society through a golf tournament.

Looking at the long-term success of Handi, Tomaszewski gives much credit to the owners. “We base our decisions on
doing the right thing for the customers and our employees,” she said. “Sometimes we are not making much money on our products, but we are doing the right thing.” She said quality brand names are important, as is informing customers about product use.

What has been the secret to Handi Medical Supply’s success for the past 30 years? “We feel like we’re doing the right thing,” Tomaszewski said.

Incontinence needs no longer at risk; state drops program

Tuesday, September 18, 2018 @ 10:09 AM  posted by jbuytaert

Courtesy of Access Press
by  // September 8th, 2018

Minnesotans with disabilities who rely on incontinence products can continue to choose items that best meet their needs. A controversial medical supply program that was to start September 1 was dropped by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). The decision to drop the Medicaid PreferredIncontinence Products Program was made just before a temporary restraining order was issued against the program August 24.

The Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services and Supplies (MAMES) took DHS and DHS Commissioner Emily Johnson Piper to court to stop the program. MAMES’ intent was to prevent DHS from granting bids to a supplier or suppliers. A hearing was held before Ramsey County District Court Judge Leonardo Castro August 16 in St. Paul, with more than two dozen people looking on. After listening to both sides and asking a number of procedural and technical questions about the proposed state program, how the program was created and the
program’s potential impacts, Castro took the matter under advisement before issuing his ruling.

“DHS decided to pull back the request for proposals before the court acted,” Piper said in a statement. “We are committed to ensuring that Medicaid enrollees receive high-quality products and that state funds are used responsibly as we comply with the legislative mandate to purchase incontinence products in bulk.” While there is satisfaction with the outcome, medical supply companies and disability advocates around Minnesota are still unhappy with the entire process. “MAMES members are grateful that the court issued the injunction, but are extremely frustrated that the (Department of Human Services) forced the provider and disability communities to spend so much time, energy and money fighting this ill-conceived program,” said Tom Jamison, president of Lake
Superior Medical Equipment, Inc. in Duluth. Jamison chairs the MAMES Legislative Committee. Read more

Medical Oxygen Safety

Wednesday, September 5, 2018 @ 01:09 PM  posted by jbuytaert

MAMES Wins Temporary Restraining Order

Tuesday, September 4, 2018 @ 01:09 PM  posted by jbuytaert


Contact: Luke Hellier 612.237.2551

Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services (MAMES) Wins Temporary Restraining Order Against Department of Human Services’ Preferred Incontinence Product Program

Department of Human Services (DHS) forced to abandon controversial program to award a monopoly distributor of incontinence products for Minnesota Medicaid patients.

(SAINT PAUL, MN) – On August 24, 2018 Ramsey County District Court Judge Leonardo Castro granted a Temporary Restraining Order preventing DHS from implementing its Preferred Incontinence Product Program (PIPP). After DHS was served with the Order, it rejected all pending bids, thereby effectively withdrawing its controversial PIPP program for the immediate future.  The PIPP was opposed by disability advocates, providers of medical supplies and equipment, legislative leaders in both parties, and Governor Dayton. Repeal language was included in the 2018 Supplemental Budget Bill, but that repeal did not take effect because it was included in the vetoed Omnibus Bill.

As envisioned by DHS, the PIPP would have designated a single monopoly distributor of medically-necessary incontinence products to Minnesota Medicaid patients. In his opinion, Judge Castro ruled that “Defendants and its employees and agents are temporarily restrained from processing any bids submitted in response to their Preferred Incontinence Product Program, Request for Proposals (RFPs), from granting any contracts to any bidder, or otherwise implementing” the PIPP until DHS satisfied several conditions imposed by the Court or until further order.

“This program posed a mortal risk to dozens of Minnesota small businesses, and the patients they serve,” said Rose Schafhauser, MAMES’s Executive Director. “14,000 Minnesotans rely upon the incontinence benefit to maintain their independence. Without high-quality products that fit well, many patients are afraid to leave their homes. I’m glad that MAMES members will continue to be able to work with their patients to manage their disease states and help them live their lives to the fullest.” Read more