The VGM Group’s Shut Down the Switchboard day to support COPD and oxygen therapy, resulted in 33,000 hits to its Web site and 8,167 reported phone calls to Washington, D.C. from providers and beneficiaries.
The goal of VGM’s “Enough is Enough” day was to have more than 50,000 people call into the Capitol’s switchboard Nov. 14, now World COPD Day.
John Gallagher, vice president of government relations at VGM, says, “Enough is Enough means ‘No more cuts.’”
VGM hoped to raise awareness of the DME industry, urge members of Congress to co-sponsor bills H.R. 1845 and S. 1428 the Medicare Durable Medical Equipment Access Act, and H.R. 621 and S. 1484, the Home Oxygen Patient Protection Act. Callers told Congress that further cuts to oxygen and power mobility should not be included in any upcoming Medicare reform.
“We kind of have an apathy issue in the industry. People have good intentions, but they don’t get around to it. We want to get everyone involved providers, employees, beneficiaries and family members.”
An interactive component was featured on VGM’s home page, www.vgm.com.
“We suspect that there were many, many more calls made but individuals forgot to report them on the site,” says Gallagher.
Gallagher spoke nearly non-stop through the event about the importance of HME providers urging their Congressional represenatives to support H.R. 1845/S 1421 and H.R. 621/S 1484.
At least 217 co-sponsors are needed for both house bills H.R. 1845 and H.R. 621 and 36 are needed for both Senate bills S. 1428 and S. 1484.
“This really can make a difference because Congress gets reports of the calls that go into the switchboard,” Gallagher says.
VGM executives took turns speaking in front of the Web cam and urging Congressman to support the bills. Special guest Jane Bunch, an HME billing expert, participated as well.
Ohio led all the states with 1,086 calls, followed by Iowa with 779; Virginia, 559; California, 544; Massachusetts, 516; Florida, 477; Texas 475; and Utah, 393. Congress received calls from constituents in 47 of the 50 states.
Gallagher heard from state associations that there were more callers than reported on VGM’s site.
Gallagher says the state associations MAMES, NEMED, FAMES and MESA were instrumental in getting the word out to push for calls.
Organized by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), in collaboration with health care professionals and COPD patient groups, World COPD day now Nov. 14 is designed to raise awareness of COPD and improve its care throughout the world.
The first world COPD day was held in 2002 and now more than 50 countries worldwide carry out activities, making the day one of the most important for COPD awareness.
Gallagher says, “We have to let Congress know: No more cuts. We are the solution, not the problem.”