ALBANY, NY – Kim Voelker recently stepped down as executive director of the Northeast Medical Equipment Providers Association (NEMEP). The board of directors chose TayCar Inc, headed up by Beth Bowen, to lead NEMEP into its next phase. Bowen also leads ACMESA, FAHCS, and ATHOMES, medical equipment associations in FL, NC, TN and VA. Medtrade Monday chatted briefly with Bowen about her busy professional life, as well as how her life got even busier during recent weeks.
Medtrade Monday: How were you approached about this NEMEP opening?
Beth Bowen: I had a conversation prior to any opening regarding their merger and my experience with how NCAMES and VADMEC planned on blending the providers in NC and VA. Many months later, I was approached to offer a proposal after their exec had offered her resignation. She has been a pleasure to work with, which makes for a very smooth transition.
Medtrade Monday: What do you believe is the primary role of a state association in today’s world?
Bowen: I believe the roles are very much the same today as when I first started in 1991. However, the methods may be different. Ultimately, a strong state association offers its members advocacy, communication, education, and networking.
Medtrade Monday: How much do you stress political involvement for state association members?
Bowen: Legislative activity and advocacy has become increasingly important these last few years as state and federal reimbursements continue to drop and affect the private payors as well. Unfortunately, it has taken many years to see positive results of advocacy efforts. Association leadership is charged with encouraging participation in grassroots action while membership may be down and our member companies are having to do more with less.
Medtrade Monday: What is your level of optimism these days about the industry?
Bowen: My heart breaks for the many businesses that have had to close their doors in past years. I have tendered many phone calls with tearful owners and scared employees, but there have been several recent “wins” legislatively, and in the regulatory arena. I am hearing more positive market analysis and I’m becoming more convinced that trends are starting to move upward.
While many more challenges are ahead, not only is this HME industry the solution as a cost saving piece of the healthcare continuum, but it is preferred by patients. I have been blessed to be a part of this industry from an association level, and from a consumer level, as my mother chose to be home during her last days. The value and benefits of home care cannot be replaced.
Medtrade Monday: Why are trade shows (like Medtrade) still relevant in our digital age?
Bowen: While all associations have added more conference calls and webinars, there is never an equal substitute for face to face business and networking.