Moving the HME Industry Forward

Legislative/Advocacy

Are You the HME Industry?

January 5, 2015

FORT COLLINS, CO – At the start of any new year, it’s natural to assess finances. It seems as though prices on virtually everything never go down—except gas I suppose. And hey, that’s going to go back up, right?

It seems everyone has a hand out looking for your money—kids’ sports teams, the IRS, and the guy at Home Depot who assures you that yes, refrigerators and hot water heaters generally only last about 15 years.

During the course of 2014, I spoke with 23 HME providers for the I Am the HME Industry department in Medtrade Monday. These people are familiar with all the financial challenges of running a household, and many of them also run a business.

Despite all these challenges, the majority of these providers also manage to set aside money for AAHomecare dues. In a perfect world, they say, HME providers would not have to fund an advocacy organization, but they all acknowledge that this is not a perfect world.  

AAHomecare president Tom Ryan has spoken eloquently about the need for greater membership, and he is correct. It’s true that other industries have longer histories of advocacy, and higher membership rates.

I used to do a lot of writing in the field of orthodontics. I’ll never forget an interview with the president of the main orthodontic association. He was lamenting that he could not convince 2% of the industry to join the organization. He had 98% of all the orthodontists in America already signed up, but that remaining 2% clearly weighed on his mind.

I once mentioned this conversation to HME industry advocate (and Medtrade ambassador) Shelly Prial, and Shelly nearly choked on his coffee. Shelly has long preached the value of AAHomecare membership, and his words resonate in 2015 as the industry once again gears up to hold the line on further government meddling.

If you’ve been pondering AAHomecare membership, 2015 may be the year to bite the bullet, pay the dues, and join up. Under Tom Ryan’s outstanding leadership, AAHomecare has put together an excellent team. If they can’t get it done, it’s safe to say that no one can.

I’m just a humble industry writer, but no less than Mal Mixon, recently retired chairman of Invacare, said the following about AAHomecare and state association efforts: “I’ve never seen this amount of pressure on the Hill for HME. Never before have we had so many champions in Congress and such a high level of awareness about our issues. We can’t stop pressing, because it is at moments like this when the tide can turn.”  

Those are strong words from a man who is no stranger to Washington, DC. In addition to fighting the marquee battles, the folks at AAHomecare often work behind the scenes to nip problems in the bud. They are your eyes and ears, and they need more members. The folks who straighten teeth are lamenting their stubborn 2%, and it would be nice if AAHomecare could have a similar problem.

Happy New Year, and I’ll see you at Medtrade Spring (March 30-April 1, 2015) in Las Vegas.

Greg Thompson is editor of Medtrade Monday. He has covered the HME industry since 2002, and can be reached at (970) 206-0071 or via e-mail: greg.thompson91@yahoo.com