Monday, March 28, 2011

What Does Your Tomorrow Look Like?

What is in store for HME providers tomorrow? I anticipate many good things. Medtrade Spring is almost here (April 12-14) and everything that I hear from the providers to whom I speak is upbeat and encouraging.

They have indicated that their companies are already hard at work to get H.R. 1041 through Congress. Yes! I hope that you are doing the same. This is a major step to make your tomorrow a success.

Their plans for participation at Medtrade Spring are all in place. Are yours? They have prepared a list of the vendors they currently work with to speak about the future. They added to that base every vendor at Medtrade that they feel has something new to offer.

Building from their existing strengths and adding to it, they anticipate an exciting tomorrow. I have chatted with many exhibitors and they are planning to come armed with many great offers and promotions. This will enable attendees to continue to grow on a successful path. But if you aren’t there, you will miss many great opportunities.

The speakers can readily be described as professors from a major university! The knowledge and ideas you can obtain at Medtrade are unexcelled. But if you stay home, what can you learn?

The state and national associations and the buying groups will all be there prepared to provide you with the tools you need to fight for H.R. 1041 and also to protect your company. Nothing happens if you don’t visit with them to get the ammunition you need.

By attending Medtrade Spring in Las Vegas you will insure that your company will be able to maintain stability and look forward to an exciting and fruitful tomorrow! I hope to see you all there!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

We Must Get H.R. 1041 Passed

Every effort must be made to get all members of Congress on board to support and pass H.R. 1041. Passage of this bill will repeal competitive bidding. This is a tedious process. It must pass the House and then the Senate. You must make every effort to be sure this is passed, because there is too much for you to lose if it is not repealed.

As an HME industry we have to use every tool that is available. The information you require will come from your state and national associations. You must also get your customers involved. Senior citizens make up a large voting block. Your staff, friends, physicians, pharmacists, PTs, OTs and all other health care providers must work with you to get this passed. They, too, have a great deal at stake.

Remember, when those elected to Congress hear voices, they have to respond because voices are votes and votes keep them in office.

The words “competitive bid” seem to have a different meaning to legislators. They feel it will save the government money. But, when dealing with a patient’s health, it takes on a much different meaning. The end result of the “bid” is bringing health care down to its lowest possible level. It means finding the very cheapest way, regardless of the consequences, to supply product. Services go by the wayside. There is no reimbursement for that. For generations HME providers have given the best service to their clients, family caregivers and patients. You all know what happens to your patients. They are forced to go elsewhere. They may have to go to two or more locations for all their needs. Always ask your clients if they would use a physician who bid the lowest competitive price?

Your task is to make every effort possible to get every representative to sign on to this bill and to alert every senator to introduce a similar one. The goal is to get it passed and signed by the President!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Special Offer for Medtrade Spring

If you haven't registered for Medtrade Spring, go to and do so now. This year's event will feature over 300 exhibitors and 80 conference sessions. For a free pass to the Expo, enter the code EXPO or for a $20 discount on the conference, use the code 20CONF.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Winning through Teamwork

I have been enjoying watching the college basketball tournament on TV. The victorious schools all have one thing in common. They win as a consequence of the close teamwork they exhibit. Our industry is in a battle with a formidable foe, the “competitive bid.”

To prevail we have to get very organized and that is accomplished by teamwork. It is imperative that every HME provider work very closely with both the state and national associations. Over the years, they have proven to be formidable with industry support. The support of every provider, every manufacturer and as many of your clientele that you can invite to work with you, will help demonstrate that this legislation is not only unpopular but is very destructive.

Competitive bidding is driving the country to more unemployment. Every politician tells us their goal is to create more jobs. This is not the way! Too many providers will be forced to close. The same politicians state that small business is one of the backbones of our economy. So why destroy the HME business? Aren’t they, too, small business? Is this what they want?

What about the beneficiaries? They are all in a tizzy wondering if they will still be able to get the same service and convenience they have from “the lowest price” awardees? They do not wish to be forced to travel (sometimes a long distance) and often to more than one supplier for their needs.

Teamwork! We can all do it. Build an effective community voice. At Medtrade Spring this is a topic that will be on everyone’s lips. You must be there also to show your support and, then with everyone’s, support we can win.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Call in Support - Now!

Every HME provider is fully aware of what will happen as new awards for the “Competitive Bid” are announced. The second round will soon be here and unless we all band together it will continue to create more havoc. Don’t wait until it hits you, start your efforts today and persist in calling and writing your elected officials in Washington.

Call in support! All of the health care professionals in your community should be asked to join with you. In particular, I suggest you speak with all the pharmacists in your community. I have made a contact with the pharmacy community and have received a major vote of support. They understand what is happening and realize that they, too, would face a similar program.

Every one of your employees, your customers and their family caregivers should also be asked to assist. AAHomecare and your state association will provide much help in the form of literature and handouts. So please call in support! This is not the time to be bashful.

If you do not know how to reach your Representatives or Senators just place a call to the US. Capitol switchboard (202-224-3121) and you will be able to speak directly to the office you request. Get the name of their HLA (Health Legislative Assistant) and he or she will carry your request.

The more calls they receive will make them aware that everyone who contacts them is a voter and can also influence votes. With this effort you will be able to accomplish a great deal.

At Medtrade Spring in Las Vegas there will be a great number of sources who will be able to help you. This is only one reason why you must attend. The state DME and national associations as well as the buying groups will all be there ready and willing to provide you with tools. You, too, must be there.

Thank you, Exhibitors!

Why is Medtrade so important for all HME providers?

The opportunity presented to meet with your vendors and the other exhibitors at Medtrade is incomparable. We appreciate the great relationship most providers have with the sales people with whom they work. Those salesmen labor very diligently for their companies but they also act for you! In this fashion they become an integral part of your team.

At Medtrade you can sit down with exhibitors and not listen for your phone to ring or watch people meandering through your showroom. It is an opportunity to both say “thank you” and tell them what else you would like from their company. Share with each manufacturer your good experiences and some of the problems you may have experienced. Medtrade presents a golden opportunity to speak about what their company can do for you!

If it was just to the ability to meet with all your vendors that would be sufficient reason for many providers to attend. However, please remember that the exhibitors are seeking a return on their investment as well.

The vendors are looking to meet new providers with whom they have not done business. They wish to find some key providers who are seeking new and other products to market. They bring with them many handouts, product sheets and samples and ask that you bring these back to your company. Share this information with your employees. When it becomes a “win-win” situation everyone returns to his or her home base satisfied.

As you review the list of speakers and the topics they will discourse on, please notice who has sponsored them. Yes, the exhibitors provide many lecturers. I have attended many classes each year both in Las Vegas and Atlanta. I am very pleased that most of the lectures I have attended teach ways to improve your business, increase your profits and continue to flourish.

Say “thank you” to your vendors!

I always recommend bringing along with you some key employees. What they will return with can prove to be well in excess of the cost. I look forward to meeting and greeting many friends at Medtrade. Please find me wandering through the showroom floor and say “hello Shelly.”

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Why We Must Stop Fraud

One thing that I can safely say is that nearly all HME providers are, without any doubt, the most honest people providing health care supplies and services. Despite this, because of a few crooked operations they are smeared and in a feeble attempt to save dollars a “competitive bid” program was passed by Congress.

In Miami, vans bringing senior citizens to group health therapy programs managed to milk out 83 million unearned dollars. But these are not HME providers. Most of the theft is from operators (thieves) who build phony companies to be able to steal from the system. The returns they get are phenomenal.

A gang of Eastern European professionals (thieves) opened up “offices” (which were only telephones) in several states and using names taken from tombstones and doctors long retired managed to steal another couple of million dollars before they were caught. I guess they were deported and took home the loot!

The Medicare program currently costs the government about $500 billion (a great deal of money). I estimate, from what we see published in the newspapers, that perhaps as much as 40% of that total is being ripped off. I am not alone in trying to determine how much money is stolen. Senator Tom Coburn believes fraud and abuse to be about $60 billion.

Why is there so much fraud? The answer simply is that there are very few people policing the system. They are now trying to lock the barn door, but the cow has already been stolen. A strong effort must be made to train inspectors who can visit every company billing services to Medicare. This cost would be far less than what is being stolen and the end result would be that the legitimate dealers would be able to continue to service their communities.

If the "competitive bid” forces many fine companies to close their doors the rolls of unemployed would grow and the flow of tax dollars collected would dry. A double whammy.

At Medtrade Spring, a great deal of time will be spent showing attendees what they can do to stop fraud and abuse. The national and state associations will have booths. VGM has been a leader and it will be there as well as some of the other buying groups working for the industry. You must be there as well! By working together we can stop a great deal of this fraud and abuse!