HIGH POINT, NC – As a recipient of AAHomecare’s latest Homecare Champion Award (along with Cara Bachenheimer from Invacare), Joel Mills has put in considerable time on the legislative front. However, as president and CEO of Advanced HomeCare, High Point, NC, Mills understands the time limitations of business owners. If providers can’t meet in person with legislators, Mills urges colleagues to make the effort via other means.
“Use your phone and email, to contact people,” he says. “You can get people at your company to make phone calls and emails. And if you have the time, energy, and resources to get to D.C, spend as much time there as possible. However, a lot of work can be done while sitting at your desk. If we don’t take responsibility to advocate for our industry, no one else is going to do it for us.”
With 35 locations in five states, Advanced HomeCare is a regional operation that has experienced more than its fair share of competitive bidding woes. The reduced reimbursement rates have led to tough choices across the board.
“Competitive bidding has forced us to make choices related to the level of care and the types of people providing that care,” laments Mills. “You must to try to make patients more accountable for their own care because of competitive bidding. You’re also trying to do fewer deliveries, and make patients more accountable for paying copays and deductibles.”
The competitive bidding fight is not over, and Mills believes the “winnable” issues come down to making the program more logical. “The most important legislative issue right now is for us to get the binding competitive bids passed,” he says. “I’m certainly an advocate for the overall market pricing program [MPP] bill that’s out there, but if competitive bidding is going to be in place, we need to make it rational.”
Where I Learned About the Business
Mills has been in the HME business for more than three decades, and during that time he estimates that he’s attended 80% of the Medtrades and Medtrade Springs over the years. “It was a place where I learned about the business,” says the 50-year-old Mills. “The classes and the things that you can get in one place, at a very inexpensive cost, are incredible. Since that time, I still go to the classes, but I find the networking even more valuable. Certainly, it is the best place to go and see all the products from the manufacturers and to talk with all your venture partners in one place.”
The trip from North Carolina to Atlanta (or to Las Vegas at Medtrade Spring) is an easy proposition for the globe-trotting Mills, who has made trips as distant as Tanzania to summit Mount Kilimanjaro with his wife, Liz Mills (pictured, upper left). As fans of the “active vacation,” Joel and Liz, who have two sons and a daughter, have also visited Italy and Switzerland—with their sights now set on Machu Picchu and New Zealand.