Moving the HME Industry Forward

Legislative/Advocacy

How Involved are You with Industry Associations?

February 17, 2014

BRADENTON, FL – As a former medical equipment business owner, state association officer, and board member—now state association executive director—I have had the opportunity to view the industry from many different perspectives.  

I have been through rate reductions, the “six point plan,” promises of gradual rate increases, and more rate reductions to appease CMS officials while they revamp our rules and regulations. All of this was followed by fraud and abuse allegations in Florida, followed by capped rentals, more capped rentals, and exclusion from insurance networks with no particular reasoning; you get the picture. Through all this confusion and chaos, the one thing that I have always been true to is my allegiance to my state association.

The reasoning is simple. As I continued to look for ways to increase market share while cutting costs, my state association has always been there for me and given me a voice bigger than my own, while giving me the information I need to respond to all this around me. All this was available without wasting valuable staff time and resources that could be best utilized within my own company.

Funding state and national associations supports lobbying efforts in Washington DC and state capitals, but also provides timely information needed to make necessary decisions for your companies. State associations provide you with connections to the Jurisdictions A, B, C, and D, as well as CMS and the NSC.

Your dues are essential to providing for the day-to-day costs to run the associations. More importantly, however, is your involvement as a critical component of our success in the state and federal initiatives. This is especially true as we push to get the Market Pricing Program (MPP) passed. We have gotten the most support ever from Congress regarding MPP, and they are very concerned about the flawed competitive bid program.

When I say support, I am not only talking about funding, but also your ACTIVE support in the association. I know that your days are busy. I know that staffing is low, but frequent calls to your Representatives does help, and does not take a lot of time. Emails and faxes work well too.

While it is expensive to actually go to Washington DC to lobby, a phone call to your Congressman or a visit to his local office to support those who do lends more credence to what is being discussed. Remember that you are a constituent. Your vote counts, and they want to hear from you.

Every Congressman needs to hear from his/her constituents. They need to know about the hometown situations. If you are not happy with how things are going, you need to let them know what is happening to you. Remember, they are there to represent your district and your clients.

If there are local rallies to support your cause, attend them. If your representative offers Town Hall Meetings, go there and let your opinion be known (many of these meetings are offered on Saturdays).
Your state and national associations remain committed to you and work each day to provide information that is crucial in your success.

By working together, we CAN make a difference. I was committed as an owner, and I remain true to my beliefs today that as a united industry, we can make a change and salvage what we have all created. As Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

Joan A. Cross is executive director of the Florida Association of Medical Equipment Services, Bradenton, Fla. She is chairman of the Executive Advisory Board for the National Supplier Clearinghouse, as well as a consultant in billing and accreditation issues.