HME Business News
Putting the ‘Extra’ in RxTra Care
Sometimes, you have to know what to lose to keep your business going and growing. For Bellevue, Wash.-based RxTra Care Pharmacy, which also has a significant home medical equipment segment, it was Medicare-reimbursed HME and supplies.
The 10-year-old company let the majority of such products go after purchasing a Bellevue pharmacy in 2004 that also had a well-established HME arm. At the time, competitive bidding, crippling oxygen and wheelchair reimbursement cuts and increased regulations were all looming—and owner and pharmacist Holly Henry and Kevin Clark, the company operations manager who specializes in HME and home health care products, saw the writing on the wall.
“The store was doing heavy (HME), everything from hospital beds down to a reacher,” Clark recalled. “Approximately 55 to 60 percent was billed to a third party, meaning Medicare and other thirds. We have essentially reversed (that percentage) since then.”
Now, most of RxTra Care’s HME sales are through credit or debit cards, though the company does work with insurance companies for HME items. Competitive bidding is not a factor for the company, which has greatly reduced its exposure to bid items and therefore decided not to participate in the program.
“Cash is better than a third party any day of the week,” Clark said.
Getting Here from There
Finding a safe haven is tough in the HME world, but RxTra Care appears to have created one by carving niches both in the pharmacy and HME arenas.
The company was started in 2002 by Henry, an independent pharmacy owner since 1985 and a former president of the National Community Pharmacists Association. While at one time RxTra Care had five locations, that number has been whittled down to three. One is in Bellevue, and the other two are across Lake Washington in Seattle.
Each has a unique toehold in its area:
RxTra Care at Providence Mount St. Vincent is an in-house pharmacy at a venerable Seattle care community for older adults, which was started in 1924 by the Sisters of Providence and the Providence Health System. RxTra Care provides custom-packed medications, medication therapy management reviews for each resident and offers consultation services. It even runs a small gift shop.