AAHomecare Slashes Washington Conference Fees

Citing high legislative stakes, association whacks entry to $100 for non-members, free for members.

In a move to see the industry come to next week’s Washington Conference in full force, the American Association for Homecare has drastically cut the event’s entry fee to $100 for non-members and free to members.

Coming on the heels of the bidding window for Round 2 opening this week, the conference, which is slated for Feb. 15 and 16 at Washington, D.C.’s L’Enfant Plaza Hotel, is the industry’s main opportunity to have the competitive bidding program replaced by the industry’s Market Pricing Program.

“The Association took the unusual measure because stakes are high and time is short,” a statement from AAHomecare read. “The February conference may be the last viable chance for the HME sector to get the MPP passed into law to replace the current bidding program, which is spreading to 91 additional bidding areas. AAHomecare is now scheduling appointments for the Feb. 16 Lobby Day when we expect hundreds of HME advocates to meet with their Senators and Representatives.”

All 2012 attendees who already registered will be eligible for a refund for the difference between the amount already paid and the new registration fee. Registrations can receive their refunds — which will be processed after the conference — by completing the refund request from at http://www.aahomecare.org/associations/3208/files/WashLegConfRefundRequestForm2012.pdf.

The Association was able to accommodate the steep discounts through its reserve funds. The discounts aim to essentially underwrite the costs of food, hotel meeting space, and other expenses to ensure that HMEs will descend in force to meet with their lawmakers on Capitol Hill two weeks from now.

“We’re at a critical juncture when it comes to Congress giving full consideration to the Market Pricing Program as a credible alternative to the current bidding program,” said AAHomecare Chairman Joel Marx, who is also Chairman of Cleveland-based Medical Service Company. “The homecare community needs to have a strong turnout on Capitol Hill in mid-February. If HME companies fail to make the case, we’re going to have a difficult time stopping the bidding program from moving forward with full force into Round Two.”

In addition to fighting to replace the bidding program, Conference participants will be armed with information and position papers on audits, power mobility, and other key policy areas for the HME sector. The Association staff will schedule providers’ visits with congressional offices and provide talking points and leave-behind materials.

The Wednesday, February 15 schedule will feature remarks by Congressmen Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), and Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) and a panel discussion on competitive bidding with University of Maryland economics professor Peter Cramton, Ph.D. and Brett Katzman, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Economics, Finance, and Quantitative Analysis at Kennesaw State University. There will also be time devoted to preparation for the following day's lobbying sessions.

”While we don’t make a profit on the Legislative Conference and are always lucky to break even, we didn’t want registration fees to stand in the way of people coming to Washington D.C. in February,” said AAHomecare President and CEO Tyler Wilson. “The registration fee covers the cost for the Association to rent hotel meeting space and rooms for Capitol Hill events, as well as for meals, receptions, and related expenses. The registration fee, the sponsorship support and the revenues from exhibitors all go toward covering the cost of the two-day event in Washington. It’s common to underestimate the cost of conducting a Washington event. AAHomecare tries to run the Legislative Conference as economically as possible.

“The Association decided it was the right time to pull funds from the organization’s reserve account to help subsidize the cost for everyone to attend the Conference," Wilson added. "We’re glad we’re able to completely underwrite the cost for AAHomecare members and heavily subsidize the registration fee for non-members.”

Providers wishing to stay at the L’Enfant Plaza should call 1 (800) 635-5065 or (202) 484-1000, and can take advantage of the AAHomecare group rate, which is is $249 single/double occupancy, by mentioning that they are attending AAHomecare’s 2012 Washington Legislative Conference.

Providers with questions about the event should contact Ashley Wyatt at ashleyw@aahomecare.org, or (703) 535-1880. Providers with questions specifically about Capitol Hill visits should contact Gordon Barnes at gordonb@aahomecare.org, or (703) 535-1883.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/dkopf/ and on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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