Editor's Note

Repeating Ourselves

It's natural to get fed up with telling lawmakers the same thing over and over.

I don’t know about you, but if there’s one thing that frustrates me like no other, it’s having to repeat myself. However, I didn’t really become acquainted with this aspect of my personality until I became a parent.

The capacity for the average child to completely ignore his or her parent is pretty impressive when you sit down and think about it. I have three daughters and each one of them has developed what can be only be described as superhuman selective hearing. In the same way the bionic woman Jamie Sommers from TV’s “The Bionic Woman” had the cybernetic ability to hear even the faintest sounds from miles away, my kids can completely tune me out as I recite a litany of chores they have also completely ignored.

And Then There’s Congress

That frustration of constantly repeating yourself to an audience that just plain isn’t listening is also something any HME provider lobbying his or her lawmakers probably feel on a regular basis. How long has this industry been contending with the threat of competitive bidding? How many pieces of legislation have been floated to either delay, stop, repeal or replace competitive bidding?

One need only look at the last six or seven years to see a parade of legislative efforts that have shown great promise, but ultimately not gone anywhere for any number of reasons. It was hard not to feel massive frustration when the release of Round One’s single payment amounts completely threw off H.R. 3790, aka the Meek bill’s scoring (as well as when Meek lost his seat and the bill faded with the change from one Congress to the next). Who wouldn’t get fed up with that?

Well, don’t get fed up. That is the nature of the beast. We have Rep. Tom Price’s (R-Ga.) Medicare DMEPOS Market Pricing Program Act of 2013, H.R. 1717, and at press time it has more than 170 co-sponsors and gaining. Yes, getting backers for Rep. Price’s legislation has been gaining in fits and starts. After an initial surge of lawmakers attaching their names to the bill, it has been harder to get more co-sponsors, and that can get frustrating, but there’s a rule of thumb in the sales profession that applies directly to the lobbying process: you have to ask for the business at least six times before you’ll make the sale.

You have to ask for the business a lot on Capitol Hill. In fact, you have to ask for it far more than you probably realize. While we all might remember learning how a bill becomes a law as school kids, the process is, as you can imagine, a wee bit more nuanced — and lengthy. Getting a bill passed on the first round rarely happens. Legislative language can get recycled from bill to bill as backers try to get the legislative passed through either a stand alone bill, or by attaching it to a larger piece of legislation that is likely to pass.

Moreover, I’m writing this roughly six months out from mid-term elections. That means the industry will have new lawmakers and staff they will have to educate on the perils of competitive bidding. Once again, providers will have to pull out the same briefing materials and make the same arguments they’ve been making for years. Is this process frustrating? Absolutely. But this is how the you achieve results. It’s a long game, for sure.

You Have to Stay in the Fight

Ultimately, you have to stay in the fight to win it. What if I didn’t repeat myself to my girls ad nauseum? They wouldn’t get their chores done. So, whether I get sick of it or not, I have to harp on them so that they learn the right behaviors.

The same goes for lawmakers and Congressional staff. Providers must continue to communicate their legislative “asks” to the House and Senate until their blue in the face — heck, til their red, purple, green and every other color.

To be heard, you must speak. To be answered, you must ask. Keep repeating yourself, because eventually someone will listen.

This article originally appeared in the June 2014 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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