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Loebsack’s office helped local business

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Lawmaker visited business after office aided in Medicare application

By Kyle Ocker

Associate Editor One Centerville business says they wouldn’t be open if not for the help of the office of a federal representative.

Family Medical Supply opened for business last September, but had to operate under some tight constraints as they awaited one thing: Approval from Medicare.

While not everything in the store is purchased through insurance or Medicare by patients, a lot of their products are. And for the first nine months of business, they weren’t able to accept any insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.

They stressed as three months passed. Then six months. They were told by others who started similar shops that it takes around 3-6 months to get accepted by Medicare. However, no timeline is offered by Medicare for those who apply.

Insurance companies also generally don’t even consider applicants until they approved by Medicare, meaning Family Medical Supply was completely shutout while that application was pending.

As the 3-6 months expected timeline passed, the stress gained. The store’s owner, Regina Lassabe, was in touch with Centerville mayor Neil MacArthur, and then AEDC director Tod Faris.

Not long after, she was in touch with a representative from Congressman Dave Loebsack’s office. What followed were phone calls from the office to help aid the application’s progress. Less than three months later, Family Medical Supply’s application was approved and they were able to accept Medicare, Medicaid and other insurance.

While they are now up and running, the owner and her husband Jessie Lassabe, who manages the store, say they wouldn’t have made it without the help of the MacArthur, Faris and Loebsack’s office.

“We knew we needed to go to the right place,” Regina Lassabe said. “We finally found it, it just took a long time. It was a long, scary road.”

Loebsack then made the trip down to Centerville, first to visit RMA Armament on Friday but then swung by the Drake Village in Centerville to visit with Family Medical Supply owner Regina Lassabe and manager Jessie Lassabe.

During his visit, they had casual conversation but also discussed the specific challenges Family Medical Supply and also rural healthcare faces. They also discussed some of the side effects of the privatization of Medicaid that Iowa recently underwent.

Loebsack said that his office will be investigating what can be done about the delays Family Medical Supply faced, as well as other rural healthcare related issues they brought up.

“The problem is, whenever you write legislation, it’s impossible to take into account all of the possible contingencies,” Loebsack said. “Often the agencies, especially CMS, when they’re writing the rules and doing what they’re doing, they’re not always paying particular attention to the folks on the ground and where the effects might be. So that’s where we have to come in as a congressional office to try to resolve the issues the best we can.”

Other issues included that one of the three healthcare companies that took on people from the Medicaid privatization — or modernization, as it was billed by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad — considers Family Medical Supply out of network, whereas other providers cover purchases at the store. This forces those patients as far away as Chariton to get their supplies.

Manager Jessie Lassabe told Loebsack that individuals are under the impression their coverages work the same as they did under Medicaid regardless what company was chosen. However that has not been the case.

“If it’s a Medicaid program, that’s a federal issue,” Loebsack said. “And that’s why I asked about that and that’s what I want to hear from them, if they have problems. Because that’s still my job as oversight … It is the case that [Iowa Governor] Terry Branstad privatized Medicaid, but it’s still a federal program, so that’s why I have an interest.”

As far as Family Medical Supply goes, they determined their store was needed in the area around two years ago and the process began. They opened September of last year, but were not able to any type of insurance, meaning their customers had to pay out of pocket.

“And we knew this, we wanted to open,” Regina Lassabe said. “Some of this stuff, Medicare does not take care of anyway. You can not get anything in the bathroom through Medicare. So we still wanted to at least have those items to be able to provide to the community.”

In addition to Jessie and Regina Lassabe, they employ a customer service representative Jonathan Savage and a nurse, Carol Weber, LPN.

Family Medical Supply offers several supplies like C-PAP, oxygen, wheel chairs, bathroom products, and more but are also willing to special order products for customers if they don’t have it in stock.

Eventually, Regina Lassabe says she hopes to expand the business to other areas in the region, especially places like Corydon that currently don’t have services Family Medical Supply offers in their community. She hopes that can happen within five years, but first they need to play a little catchup after experiencing the delays with Medicare.

Article courtesy of The Daily Iowegian.

Category: Healthcare

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