Industry Outreach Extending to Lawmakers, Media

HME advocates work to communicate need for bidding reform on both Capitol Hill, as well as with various news outlets.

Using the small window available to lobby Congress during September, before lawmakers hit the campaign trail until the Nov. 8 election, various HME advocates to lobby lawmakers on Capitol Hill, as well as obtain news media coverage in order to increase the profile of reforming national bid expansion.

“While prospects for legislative action remain uncertain before Congress recesses for election season in the next week or so, our contacts on the Hill tell us that these stories are being heard,” Tom Ryan, president and CEO of the American Association for Homecare, said. “Congressional leadership offices, key committee staff, and Senators and Representatives across the nation are getting the message that drastic cuts for rural communities are unsustainable for providers and potentially harmful for HME patients.”

When it comes to media outreach, one provider to chalk up a “win” was A&A Home Health & Equipment (http://www.aahhe.com), which worked with WTVA in Tupelo, Miss. to generate a strong video segment that can be found at http://bit.ly/2csqKrY.

"We haven't had to deny everybody everything," Mark Patten, branch manager for A&A told WTVA. "But we're not sure how long that can go on. Some of my colleagues, who have their own operations, some of them don't know if they're going to be able to stay in business."

In addition to the video, WTVA ran an online article that included a variety of legislative contact information so that viewers and readers of the station could contact their lawmakers to lobby on behalf of reforming bid expansion to protect rural access.

Also, the Janesville Gazette ran a column by Brian Kelly, the vice president Wisconsin’s Home Health United (www.homehealthunited.org), in its print edition (a copy is on the AAHomecare site at http://bit.ly/2cWgiX8). The Gazette is the hometown paper for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and after writing about the impact of national expansion Kelly calls on the Speaker for action:

“We have closed showrooms in Johnson Creek, Portage, Platteville and Madison, a significant inconvenience for countless seniors who now have to drive farther,” Kelly writes. “Seniors in rural areas tend to be much older than beneficiaries in urban areas, which makes longer travel times that much more significant. Given the added travel and higher out-of-pocket costs for seniors, many Medicare beneficiaries are deciding not to purchase the medically necessary products for their home care.

“Congress had a chance to pause the second round of cuts to allow for further study of the impacts on patients in rural communities, but the House and Senate were unable to reconcile different versions of legislation before they recessed in July,” he continues. “Wisconsin home medical equipment providers are counting on Speaker Ryan to help break the impasse and make sure seniors and people with disabilities continue to get the home medical equipment they depend on.”

Ryan thanked the providers that have done media outreach in their hometowns.

“We are using many of these stories as part of our media outreach efforts, but we are also happy to get stories that will only be used on Capitol Hill and not publicly released,” he said. “All stories, whether used publicly or solely on the Hill, have been very useful in efforts to educate Congressional staffers.”

Providers wishing for more information can contact Tilly Gambill at tillyg@aahomecare.org.


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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