Monday, February 28, 2011

Stay Cool - But Don't Stay Silent

I had a most fascinating conversation this past weekend with an old friend. He is a successful HME provider on the West Coast. I have known him for many years and look forward to seeing him again at Medtrade Spring in Las Vegas.

What I enjoyed hearing was that he has much faith in the industry and the people who run the associations. He feels, much as I do, that we will weather the storm. He feels competitive bidding and the other onerous regulations will soon be eliminated. I asked him why he felt so confident. His answer is what I am going to share with all: “Very few senior citizens and beneficiaries of Medicare have felt the pressures experienced by those in the markets where there have been winners.”

He has been very busy speaking to all of his clients and has his employees doing the same. He has contacted the pharmacists, physicians and other health care providers in the community and discussed in detail all of the problems this has created. They all understood and realized how their patients will be affected.

Armed with the material he gathered from his state HME association and AAHomecare, he tells me that they are all joining with him and our industry in this conflict. As a direct result of all these efforts, they are all writing and calling their congressmen. None of the people he knows in his community want to see this happen.

Is he cool? Yes!
Should you be cool? Yes!

What he is doing can be replicated by every HME provider. The tidal wave this will create will obliterate the onerous legislation.

He added another word of advice, which I am passing on. He agrees with us. If Social Security and Medicare will eliminate the fraud and abuse there will be sufficient funds available and the government will also see costs being driven down.

Stay cool and listen to what I heard. We can do it!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Get on Board!

If ever attending a meeting was important, it is now! I am referring to the March 16 and 17 Washington, DC Legislative Conference sponsored by AAHomecare.

Our industry is facing some issues that must be addressed and every effort must be made to correct them. To get positive results we all have to make our voices heard. Getting to see your legislators and supporting this conference can accomplish it. Get on Board!

AAHomecare has arranged for three Republican and three Democratic Representatives to speak to the attendees. There will also be many HLAs from both the Senate and the House for you to meet. You have to be there! The AAHomecare staff will make appointments and provide the necessary material for you to meet your congressmen in their offices. But if you stay at home, what will happen?

Think about how the new oxygen reimbursement schedule will affect your company? Consider what you will do if your company is not a winner in the competitive bid? Who will take care of your clients, people you have served for many years and who depend on you, if they are forced to go elsewhere?

The time is getting very close, but I know that there are rooms still available at reduced prices in DC. Contact AAHomecare now (703-207-6263). You can make a difference by participating. I am afraid of what might happen if you do not!

You owe this to your employees and the senior citizens and patients you have given so much care, service and love. Get on board and insure there will be a tomorrow!

The Risky Business of Competitive Bidding

We are all aware of the risks competitive bidding places upon the HME industry; yet, providers across the country continue to fight for their businesses and their patients.

Rose Shafhauser, executive director of MAMES, reported to her members the following: “Competitive bidding is a job-killing program that is forcing small businesses around the country to close and is putting people out of work.”

Another consequence of this program is that small business has always provided many tax dollars. These will now be disappearing.

There is much more at stake. Yes, losing tax dollars and closing companies only creates more chaos. Medicare patients, most of whom are senior citizens, have lost their ability to receive necessities from the local companies where they have always obtained their supplies.

In the markets where the first bid is now in place, patients are experiencing great difficulties. Sometimes they have to travel to more than one location. They have lost their right to shop where they want. The number of senior citizens and their family caregivers, when coupled with your efforts, can reach their congressmen to bring about a change. As I have reported so often: “you must become much more active than ever to work to veto the competitive bid.” Please remind your elected officials that without votes they are no longer in Congress!

Please work with your state HME association and the national associations. They are working for every HME provider and need your support and your dollars. Spend that money now or you can lose everything. Rally all your customers and staff to write and call and let Congress know what is happening. The basic ability to shop freely is gone. Other problems created are both delays in obtaining supplies and longer hospital stays. This is unfair to their constituents.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Information, please!

Every successful entrepreneur knows how important it is to obtain current information. Armed with facts they are able to plan and grow. Our industry is very fortunate that we have many excellent magazines that keep everyone updated.

I just received a copy of the “Survey Results and Analysis” HME News did last month. This report is current and filled with many interesting facts. The survey results and analysis make for fascinating reading.

HME News is not alone in providing information and thoughts to enable your company to plan for the future. Every issue of HomeCare magazine is filled with articles showing what other providers have accomplished.

There are many other publications that cover every facet of our industry. At Medtrade meetings the various magazines are stacked up in several locations so you can get copies and subscribe to those that are of interest.

Come to Medtrade Spring 2011 where you will get ideas to cope with some of the major problems that have to be resolved. Just how to get around the so-called “competitive bid” legislation should be sufficient reason to attend.

You know your company, your strengths and weaknesses. The OTC retail sales are a valuable asset to expand. “Audits and reviews” are staring at dealers, what to do? Medtrade Spring 2011 has the answers.

More than 300 exhibitors are going to be there. Your company must also be there. There will be many seminars where you and members of your staff will be given tools to grow.

I look forward to meeting many of our readers and greeting you all. All of the many publications that can assist your company will be found there. Information please, yes indeed, “Medrade Spring 2011 has the answers.”

Use Your Assets

Every entrepreneur of a HME company has many things in their company with which to grow. With the government making changes, in reimbursements and via the competitive bid, things are becoming very confusing. Providers are being forced to seek new opportunities.

We want you to utilize what you already have and use those assets to make realistic changes. The first is your staff; the second is your computer and a third is a combination of both your state HME and national association.

I will start with your staff. You have to make every effort to maintain all of your employees. Each is the heart of your company. They want to keep their jobs, so speak personally with them. Allow them tell you about their ideas to expand the value of their little segments. I have had the good fortune to speak with many providers throughout the country. One told me that the young lady who handles their ostomy room made a few suggestions and he gave her the OK to proceed. The volume in that department has almost grown by 50% in the last few months. Every employee has good ideas so listen to them.

In your computer there is so much information and I suggest you use that to help make new plans. You should have the name, address, e-mail and phone number of every patient and possibly even the same of their family caregiver. Wouldn’t they all enjoy receiving some good health ideas and some promotions from you? I know they will. Perhaps you could send them paragraph or two about ideas which make the home more comfortable or offer a product (make them personal) so that recipients would see an items they normally use.

The state and national organizations are fighting as hard as possible to bring about changes in the legislation. They cannot do this without your support! So get on board with them.

At Medtrade in Las Vegas there will be much emphasis to help you succeed. If you have not registered yet, please do so STAT. Use your assets and come to Las Vegas. I look forward to meeting you there!

Never Walk Alone

As I study the various regulations that our industry is coping with, a melody keeps running through my head. In the musical Carousel, the lyrics I hear are: “walk on, walk on with hope in your heart; and you’ll never walk alone; you’ll never walk alone.” This was Oscar Hammerstein at his best and today is when we must all have “hope in our hearts.”

To me “hope” is a call to work. The time now is for all HME providers to change their attitude from hope to work. Not every provider can win participation in the competitive bid. To my great surprise a large number of providers, many more than anticipated, did not submit a bid. They felt that to be put into a situation where they would receive such a minimum reimbursement for supplies and services that they would never be able to maintain their companies.

I have spoken to a great number of entrepreneurs who feel that their HME businesses would adapt in very short order to live without the “bid.” They would develop new disciplines and become very aggressive in building OTC cash sales. I agree with them 100%. What makes me feel so good was they felt that this so-called “bid' will be cancelled. Then, once again they will be able to provide the services beneficiaries seek. The marketing changes they now are putting into place will make a big difference.

What I find most interesting is that those providers with whom I have spoken are all looking forward to Medtrade Spring in Las Vegas. Their plan is to speak to as many exhibitors possible to find new OTC cash sales that fit into their operations. They will never “walk alone.” They will turn “hope” into“ a better means of existing and growing.

A review of the exhibitors indicates that there are many new opportunities to be found at Medtrade Spring. They, too, same as HME providers, are seeking customers with whom they can expand. There will be many speakers who will also bring new ideas and programs to you.

How best to cope with competitive bidding? Where to locate new OTC cash sales? What to do when you face an audit or a review? These are topics that will be covered. If you have not you’re your reservations to attend Medtrade Spring yet, please do so ASAP. This is where you will get your answers!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Patient Care - Why We are Still Fighting For It

It is a fact that when attacked animals and people will fight back because if they don’t they will lose. When the government passes legislation that is unfair or wrong, the public fights back and invariably wins.

HME providers now find themselves in a situation that requires them to fight back. Gail Walker, editor of HomeCare magazine, commented in her editorial (January 2011) that: “Most providers don’t want to give up patient service, and most don’t think it’s time to give up fighting for it – or their companies.”

She has laid out for us the best way to both rally support and get the message to Congress. “Patient Service!” Is there any other industry that provides patient service as a pro-bono part of their operations that can match that of an HME provider? In the many years I have been involved, I have seen this grow into a customer-oriented industry.

A provider with their unpaid patient service must be recognized. They cater to senior citizens, customers, family caregivers and work in cooperation with local physicians, nurses and therapists. All the provider receives for much of this is a thank you and loyalty. But, as a consequence of the competitive bid situation the client loses their local provider. They must go elsewhere, sometimes to another town or village.

Your task is to get all of these folks involved and ask them to write and call their legislators. You can help them with the tools your state DME and national associations provide. This is not the time to sit back and wait for someone else to do it. You must fight back! There is too much at stake for you and for your clientele.

Patient service and how to fight back will be discussed in great detail at Medtrade Spring in Las Vegas. Be there! Our industry must retaliate and we, working together, will win. Your company and customers must start their efforts today.