ATLANTA – Another eventful year has come to a close with so many memorable moments. Distilling the biggest stories of 2013 is a function of hindsight, clicks, and reader reaction.
Sometimes the “moments” are not moments at all, but instead new ways of thinking that begin to crystalize within the provider community. For Jackie Bolt, president of Carolina Homecare, Greenville, SC, the biggest industry-wide happening was a shift in philosophy regarding the retail sector.
“Carolina Homecare made the decision to exit retail in the late 1990s and we said we would not do retail again,” muses Bolt. “Yet in 2013, we changed our mind and reentered the retail market and are seeing some very positive feedback from both our patients and our referrals, as well as some really good cash sales.”
Events in and around Washington, DC, always figure into the mix, and Michael Hamilton, executive director, Alabama Durable Medical Equipment Association (ADMEA), believes three events in the legislative world merited consideration for the top 10.
“The most significant event in the HME industry in 2013 was the merger of the Accredited Medical Equipment Providers Association (AMEPA) and the National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Services into AAHomecare, says Hamilton, “and also the appointment of Tom Ryan as president and CEO of AAHomecare.”
If you ask Georgie Blackburn, vice president, Government Relations and Legislative Affairs, BLACKBURN’S, there is optimism to be had—if you look closely enough. “Finally, the Senate has included licensure improvements within their budget bill,” enthuses Blackburn. “That fills me with hope that we will prevail with getting additional market pricing program (MPP) language into policy in the year to come—and our next round of bidding may put an end to the lunacy. It’s up to us to keep the momentum going.”
Any list of “memorable moments” is necessarily subjective, but the following is at least a document of the year that was 2013—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
#10: New HME Voice Radio Presence Provides Wit and Wisdom – multiple dates
ATLANTA – Powered by Medtrade Radio and sponsored by Emerge Sales, HME Voice monthly shows became available for listening at any time. Click Here to listen at your convenience.
#9: Medicare Audits Deny Wheelchairs for 22 Severely Disabled Nashville Area Patients – 12/9/13
Medicare took back more than $200,000 it paid for complex rehabilitation wheelchairs that were delivered to 22 severely disabled Nashville area patients, leaving a local company in the red and questioning Medicare’s payment review process.
#8: Audit Tsunami Continues to Plague Industry – multiple dates
Nearly every HME provider has felt the effects of the audit tsunami, and some have not survived its onslaught. However, there are a number of developments that providers should watch for that may give some relief. “Continued audits and stringent Medicare requirements forced owners to become sticklers for documentation up front,” says Miriam Lieber, founder, Lieber Consulting.
#7: Medtrade Spring Exceeds Expectations – 3/24/13
As Medtrade Spring organizers cut the ceremonial ribbon and attendees streamed onto the expo floor at Mandalay Bay, Ron Resnick, president of Blue Chip Medical, Suffern, NY, did not get his hopes up. “I expected doom and gloom,” he said. “But the first day was a huge success. People were surprisingly optimistic, and we accomplished our goals.”
#6: Shift in Philosophy Toward Retail Sector – multiple dates
When Medtrade convened in Orlando, Fla, this year from Oct 7-10, manufacturers brought a huge amount of retail to providers.
#5: Senate Finance Committee Addresses DME State Licensure in SGR Bill – 12/16/13
The Senate Finance Committee marked up a sustainable growth rate (SGR) reform bill that included an amendment to mandate appropriate state licensure.
#4: The Merger of AMEPA and NAIMES – 4/29/13
The HME industry took another move toward unity with the merger of the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) and the National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers (NAIMES).
#3: A Show of Force: Medtrade Shines in Florida – 10/14/13
More than 550 exhibitors and thousands of attendees descended on the Sunshine State for Medtrade, the nation’s largest HME Expo and Conference. Educational sessions, booth exhibits, and networking events attracted what AAHomecare Chief Tom Ryan described as “fully engaged” providers who were serious about new opportunities.
#2: Tom Ryan Takes the Reins at AAHomecare – 8/19/13
AAHomecare past chairman Thomas H. Ryan (pictured) joined the association in early September as its new president and CEO. The announcement culminated an exhaustive search to find a replacement for outgoing president Tyler Wilson.
#1: Industry Stunned by Round Two Single Payment Amounts – 2/4/13
Shock, despair, and anger reverberated around the HME industry with the release of single payment amounts (SPAs) for round two of competitive bidding. “The sky really is falling,” lamented Michael Hamilton, executive director, Alabama Durable Medical Equipment Association. “Those rates are unsustainable. Now most of the equipment can only be provided by buying the cheapest piece of junk on the market, and offering really poor service.”