VIERA, FL – As a pharmacist for many decades, industry veteran Shelly Prial plied his trade, all the while making time for advocacy on behalf of his industry. Now retired from the pharmacy/HME business, Prial (shown here at last year’s Medtrade) is still a familiar face in his role as HME advocate and Medtrade Ambassador.
Prial knows the time limitations faced by today’s professional, but he is tired of excuses. Not one to mince words, the 87-year-old WW II veteran believes the first essential goal must be to boost AAHomecare membership in 2014. In the first of a monthly series of conversations, Medtrade Monday talked with Prial about the pressing issue of membership.
Greg Thompson, editor of Medtrade Monday: How would you characterize the state of advocacy/membership in 2014?
Shelly Prial: Even in 2014, the same handful of people are visiting the halls of Congress. The rest are sharing the crop, but they are not contributing. And that, to me, is wrong.
Thompson: What is the best way to attract new members to AAHomecare?
Prial: Speak to people. Talk to them about the problems they are facing and the problems that the industry is facing.
Ask them, “Aren’t you going to fight to protect your business?” The answer will probably be, “Sure I’m going to fight!” If that’s the response, give them an application for membership. Sit there while they write out the check. I did this even in the 1950s and 1960s when people were making so much money they did not even have to bother to belong.
Thompson: What do you say to those who are hesitant to spend the money?
Prial: Such a small percentage of HME providers have opted to protect their businesses, but the only way they can protect their business is by paying their dues. AAHomecare and the state associations can protect them if there are enough of them supporting.
AAHomecare can’t support the industry if only 10% are paying in, and 90% is not paying in. A group like the AMA [American Medical Association] has 85% to 90% membership because they put their money where their mouths are.
Thompson: How united are industry advocacy efforts at this point?
Prial: AAHomecare has made giant strides. The fact that they merged with the National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Services (NAIMES) and the Accredited Medical Equipment Providers Association (AMEPA) shows that progress.
They are much more formidable now when they go to speak in Washington, DC. Just think, if they merely doubled what they have now, they would be as strong as many of the other organizations.
To speak with Shelly Prial in person, you can always find him at either Medtrade Spring or Medtrade. Shelly has never missed a Medtrade Spring or Medtrade, and he will be at Medtrade Spring, scheduled for March 10-12, 2014, at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. To register for the Spring version of the nation’s premiere HME trade show, CLICK HERE.