MESA, AZ – Mark S. Farmer, owner of Southwest Mobility Inc, started with just one scooter back in 1989. From this humble beginning, the 54-year-old has expanded to three locations in the Grand Canyon State, primarily through sales of ramps, scooters, power chairs, lift chairs, and vehicle lifts.
A willingness to change with the times led Southwest to a current payor mix that is heavily skewed toward cash, a far cry from the 50% cash (and other insurance) to 50% Medicare ratio of old. “I knew that I was not going to be a winning bidder [in competitive bidding], because I know what I need to survive,” says Farmer, who has served as president of the Arizona Medical Equipment Suppliers Association (AZMESA) since 2006. “A lot of companies are not surviving because of the prices they bid.”
Farmer’s long-standing role with AZMESA came despite an admitted lack of interest in politics. However, the position helps to make positive change. “I have gone out and visited with representatives about competitive bidding, audits, fee schedules, and making things better for the Medicare beneficiaries,” he says. “Our state association is a member of AAHomecare, and the recent binding bids legislation that they and their allies brought about is a great thing.”
A recent trip to Medtrade Spring gave Farmer a glimpse of the national political agenda, as well a chance to network with fellow providers. “The reason I go to the Las Vegas show is the time I spend visiting with others who are going through the same things,” he says. “In 26 years of going to these shows, I know a lot of people. Medtrade Spring is very helpful. I make a lot of key contacts every year at the show, and I see a lot of friendly faces.”
When he’s not running his businesses in Mesa, Sun City, and Payson, Farmer and his wife like to travel, go jet skiing, and play golf. “I once got a 66 a long time ago,” says the former college golfer with a chuckle. “Right now I’m about a five handicap.”