AMARILLO, TX – The DME industry grew up unregulated. It grew up “under the radar.” HCFA (now CMS) had no idea what the DME industry did. The same was true with Capitol Hill.
Post-payment audits did not exist. Competitive bidding had not yet entered anyone’s vocabulary. A DME supplier could open its doors, sell or rent a product to a Medicare beneficiary, and get paid a whole lot more money than what the product cost the supplier. In short, the industry grew up with “Leave it to Beaver.”
Well, “Leave it to Beaver” has been replaced by “Modern Family.” In attempting to get its arms around the DME industry, the government overreacted. The pendulum has swung way too far. The industry is having to deal with CMS contractors on steroids and the ill-advised competitive bidding program. The pendulum will eventually swing back to the middle, but for now, life is challenging for DME suppliers.
And yet, the demand for what the DME industry has to offer is increasing exponentially. This is a natural by-product of 78 million Baby Boomers who are retiring at the rate of 10,000 per day. Boomers will live long lives and expect to live at home. Until the day they die, Boomers expect to be running triathlons and going to Rolling Stones concerts.
The challenge for the DME supplier is figuring out how to meet this demand while traversing the obstacles that Congress and CMS keep throwing at them. The solution is “knowledge.” The most efficient, cost-effective way, for DME suppliers to gain this knowledge is to attend Medtrade Spring and Medtrade.
There are three components to Medtrade: (i) the education programs; (ii) the exhibition hall; and (iii) networking among industry stakeholders. Medtrade’s Education Advisory Board works its tail off to come up with the best (most relevant) education topics, and to recruit the best speakers.
In doing this, the EAB not only looks at what issues are pressing the industry now, but also the issues that are coming down the road over the next several years. The exhibitors (manufacturers and vendors) are the companies that are focused on providing products and services that will allow DME suppliers to thrive in this “new normal.” And the attendees are those people who are open minded and are not handcuffed by remembering “the way things used to be.”
I have been speaking at the Medtrade Spring and Medtrade shows for many years. The Medtrade shows used to resemble a high school reunion for me. It seemed like I knew everybody. The same people came to the Medtrade shows year after year. Well, this is no longer the case.
Over the past several years, I have not recognized most of the attendees. These are people who are relatively new to the industry. They are OK with audits, and stringent documentation requirements, and competitive bidding—because that is all they know. Their reason for coming to Medtrade is to gain the tools they need to succeed in today’s environment.
And that is what Medtrade has to offer: a single place where people can come to gain the knowledge and meet this huge demand that is coming our way. In short, attending Medtrade is a wise use of time and money. Medtrade takes place October 20-23, 2014, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.
Jeffrey S. Baird, JD, is chairman of the Health Care Group at Brown & Fortunato, Amarillo, Tex.