BIRMINGHAM, AL – In the mid 1970s, common sense dictated that we form an organization that could pool resources and send the most effective spokesmen among us, rather than fighting various battles individually. We created the still active Alabama Durable Medical Equipment Association (ADMEA), and later discovered that others had taken similar action. Because the issues were national, we all got involved in trying to create an effective national organization located in Washington and capable of lobbying successfully for the entire universe of home health care providers.
After years of excessive egos, varying levels of concern for various specialties, endless debates over the question of whether national and local providers had the same concerns, funding difficulties, bickering over policy details, and a series of mergers, spin-offs and newly created organizations—we have finally reached nirvana. While some of these issues remain in a few states, for the first time in the history of the Medicare program, which almost everyone agrees drives rates and polices for virtually all third party payers, the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) is now the single national organization representing the interests of every type and size of HME provider.
The most recent mergers and staff changes have produced a lean but effective association, respected by politicians and bureaucrats, and capable of influencing the most radical changes our industry has ever faced. The recent changes come as we move from a low-volume, high-margin business to a high-volume, low-margin industry.
We are still struggling to gain recognition as service providers, rather than commodity deliverers, and trying to manage the inevitable consolidation in a manner that preserves, to the greatest possible extent, the levels of education and service that makes us the most cost-efficient segment of the health care delivery system.
The most pervasive and significant problem we face is apathy. It is appalling how many providers continue to resist devoting even a small portion of their time and resources to the organizations that protect and preserve the very existence of their business.
If you are among that group, shame on you. Get real, recognize how much better off we would all be if the only national organization representing your interests had sufficient resources and support to do the job right, and cough up the very reasonable amount required to join AAHomecare.
And don’t forget the ever-changing local issues, including taxes, licensure, certification requirements, Medicaid and local insurers that can only be handled effectively by a strong state or regional association. You simply must support both national and local associations to protect your business from avoidable disasters. The need has never been greater, and the existing organizations are better than they have ever been. With sufficient support, you would be amazed at what could be accomplished.
Those of you who are already members of both a local and the national association, make it your business to recruit at least one new member for each organization in the next few weeks. The greater numbers and resources will magnify the effectiveness of your own participation and give you a much greater return on your investment in membership.
Let’s make this the year we get at least 20% of the companies in the industry involved in supporting the organizations that may just save the industry from extinction.
Michael Hamilton is executive director of the Alabama Durable Medical Equipment Association (ADMEA), Birmingham, Ala.
Providers looking for the latest legislative wisdom (and so much more) should not miss Medtrade Spring, scheduled for March 10-12 at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. This year, AAHomecare’s Washington Update is Tuesday, March 11, from 8:30 am – 9:45 am. The update provides attendees with an opportunity to learn from and engage with AAHomecare’s team of legislative and regulatory experts on challenges and opportunities dealing with issues including the bidding program, aggressive audits, and documentation requirements for providers.
Find out what AAHomecare’s plans are for the future and how the Association will fight for its members as they fight for their businesses. Stay informed, stay involved. AAHomecare speakers to include: Tom Ryan, president, Jay Witter, vice president of government affairs, and Kim Brummett, senior director of regulatory affairs. Sponsored by: HME Business. CLICK HERE to register for Medtrade Spring.