Editor's Note: Rescue Yourself

I admit it. I am guilty. Before I even unfold the instructions to assemble something I have purchased, I probably have already asked someone else to assemble it for me. While I like to tell myself that I just don’t have the patience, the truth is, it’s easier getting someone else to do it for me. We all have those moments, but with the current state of the HME industry, expecting someone else to do it for you could put your business in a critical state.

Whether it is accreditation, preparing a competitive bid, expanding your retail sales, tightening your business efficiency or changing your business model, providers need to take proactive measures to survive the tough reimbursement and competitive bidding environment ahead. Although that seems like a tall enough order to fill, there is more that providers need to do. Lobbyists on the frontlines in Washington are reporting that a push for reduced Medicare spending will fall on our industry again in the near future. Additional cuts to oxygen, the elimination of the first-month purchase option for power wheelchairs and competitive bidding without provisions to preserve patient access are the biggest threats.

To prevent more adversity to our industry, providers must establish a voice. Providers that speak to their representatives and senators in their home states and districts can impact policy nationally. Remember that the people you serve each day are the constituents that elect the representatives and senators in your state. Providers should set up meetings with local representatives and invite their clients to share the successful outcomes attributed to home care. Decision-makers in Washington need to learn the value and cost efficiency of home care so they don’t turn to our industry when it comes time for budget slashing.

It’s obvious that providers aren’t as actively involved during this critical time as they need to be. HME state associations are wondering why more providers don’t join. There are more empty seats than filled seats at AAHomecare’s Washington update at the Medtrade show.

Start your own grass-roots effort locally. Help prevent further cuts to oxygen by supporting the Home Oxygen Patient Protection Act, H.R. 621 and S 1484. Preserve the first-month purchase option for power wheelchairs. Support H.R. 1845 and S. 1428, the amendments to competitive bidding that will preserve patient access and allow providers to sell products at the winning bid price. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you.

While many providers might say that their voice, their small store, their opinion alone, might not be heard in Washington, D.C., one thing is for sure: Silence won’t be heard.

This article originally appeared in the November 2007 issue of HME Business.


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