Medtrade 2016 Energizes Industry

Legislative and advocacy events, official recognition of HME Woman of the Year and a visit from Rep. Price highlight annual event.

This year’s installment of Medtrade, which ran Oct. 31 to Nov. 3 at Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center gave providers a chance to not only attend educational conferences and products on the expo floor, but also important advocacy events, a visit from Rep. Tom Price, M.D. (R-Ga.), and the HME Woman of the Year award.

Washington Update

On the morning of Nov. 1, the Washington Update from the American Association for Homecare started off with AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan pledging that the association would “leave nothing on the field” as it prepared to launch into legislative efforts during the remaining lame duck session of the 114th Congress. Ryan added that national bid expansion’s 50 to 60 percent cuts were “outrageous,” “egregious” and “not sustainable.”

“If you don’t have a margin you don’t have a mission,” he said.

But Ryan pivoted to say that while the market disruption was “so real” the grassroots effort was “so loud,” and praised providers and industry advocates for their efforts to raise the visibility of the issue both on Capitol Hill and in the media.

Jay Witter, senior vice president for public policy for AAHomecare, provided details on the legislative plan to pass rural relief legislation during the lame duck session of Congress, which runs from Nov. 14 to Dec. 16. He specifically called on those providers represented by members of key Congressional committees – specifically, Ways & Means and Energy & Commerce – to make an extra effort to reach those lawmakers during the legislative push.  

Kim Brummett, vice president of regulatory affairs for AAHomecare, reviewed the association’s regulatory activities, including work to clear the more than 800,000 claim backlog of audit appeals, and working with CMS to get clarification on WOPD requirements. She also called on providers to join the third Audit Key survey, which began Oct. 15.

“We need more participation,” she said to providers, reminding them that the data collected helps build the industry’s case for reforming CMS’s audit program.

Laura Williard, AAHomecare’s senior director of payer relations gave an overview of findings from the recently-completed HME Cost Study, which showed that competitive bidding reimbursement rates for HME cover only 88 percent of overall costs for businesses providing HME and relates services. She also gave an update on efforts to explore alternative payment models for COPD-related care, and outlined the Association’s efforts to improve relationships with Medicare Advantage plans, TRICARE & Medicaid contractors, and other significant payers.

HME Woman of the Year

Directly after the Washington Update, the audience stayed to catch an appearance by Team USA of the United States Power Soccer Association (USPSA), and the awarding of the HME Woman of the Year to Dr. Kirsten Davin, owner and president of Precision Seating Solutions LLC.

“It is a great honor that someone like me is recognized,” said Davin, who is founder, co-owner and president of Precision Seating Solutions. “A younger woman, 37 years old from a small town, via a grassroots method built a company that now has global distribution. The fact that we’re recognized for that is amazing.”    

The finalists for the inaugural HME Woman of the Year award were named last month, and out of 37 candidates four finalists were selected. In addition to Davin, there were:

  • Rose Schafhauser, president of Association Management LLC.
  • Laurie Tomaszewski, chief sales and marketing officer for Handi Medical Supply.
  • Patty Mastandrea, chief operating officer, MedCare Equipment Company LLC.

Rep. Price

On the morning of Nov. 2, Rep. Price met with attendees to receive an HME advocacy award from AAHomecare’s Tom Ryan and Jay Witter, as well as VGM Government Relations’ John Gallagher, as well as to give those in the audience his update on the induststry’s legislative prospects.

Price told the attendees that there was a “significant possibility that we can get a year’s delay [on bid expansion] starting Jan. 1.”

Day three at Medtrade got off to an optimistic start with United States Representative Tom Price, M.D. (R-Ga) telling attendees that there was a “significant possibility that we can get a year’s delay [on bid expansion] starting January 1, 2017.”

Price said the key would be for providers and industry advocate to educate Congress on the perils of competitive bidding, and the national expansion in particular. 

“It just doesn’t make any sense at all,” Price said of the program “We continue to battle. We continue to fight. As was mentioned, 39 percent of DME suppliers have gone out of business since this craziness started. That’s not because they chose to retire ... it’s because the federal government got engaged in the process and said, ‘We’ll pick the winners and losers’ and it’s just so sad.’” 

The Key to Patient Engagement