NEW BEDFORD, MA – I have travelled to Washington, DC, every year for the past 16 years, and I have to say there was something different in the air last week at the AAHomecare Washington Legislative Conference. Not surprisingly, there were fewer attendees this year as we are all experiencing a bit of a down turn in meeting attendance these days.
I wish there had been more people, not just because we need greater numbers on the Hill, but because there are so many exciting things happening right now. My meetings were the most positive I’ve ever experienced.
Everyone I ran into on the Hill said their meetings were positive. Our Congressional delegation said they were hearing more about the problems with competitive bidding and audits and are willing to help.
I was especially excited to bring back news to our members in New England that Rep Richard Neal (D-Mass), long-time member of the House Ways & Means committee, is adding his name to HR 1717. He has never signed on to legislation for our industry.
We were pleasantly surprised (and a bit shocked) to hear that Senator Ed Markey’s (D-Mass) staff wants to help us. When he was on the House Energy & Commerce committee, he did not support us.
Even our meetings on the Senate side were more positive. They are eager to hear more about legislation on competitive bidding and the audits – and legislation will be introduced soon for both of these issues and much more. For the first time, I feel like we moved the needle a bit in a positive direction. We have to keep the pressure on, continue to tell our stories, and try to get beneficiaries move involved.
Karyn Estrella, CAE, is executive director of the Home Medical Equipment and Services Association of New England, New Bedford, Mass.