Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Notes from Medtrade

The opening salvo for Medtrade 2011 was the tremendous attendance at the pre-show seminars. The interest for most DME/HME providers was to see how much they could learn about new opportunities and strategies to help them succeed.

The lines of people waiting to get into the Expo were long and full of HME. I spoke with many of them and I realized that they all recognized that on the Expo floor were many answers they were seeking.

Some of the people I talked to included:
Bill Griffin of Griffin Home Health Care in North Carolina remarked that once again he was very comfortable, attending classes and working with vendors. That is basically what they all said to me.

Jon Kuykendall, second generation of Village Health Services (Ozark, AR), was looking for new rehab products. He found many. Tom Inman (Virginia Home Medical) told me how he works on a Healthcare Advisory Council his representative organized to bring the right message to D.C. He is here at Medtrade, looking for new ideas.

Jim Binson, and his lovely daughter Robbyn, of Binson's Home Health Care Centers in Michigan, were very concerned that most reimbursements were still at a 1968 level.

Mike VanHuss, a rep, was pleased that there were so many providers at the seminars.

Russ White of Georgia-based Walker Home Medical was looking for new and better ways to get his company more share in today's market.

The enthusiasm I saw augers well for our industry. It appears that they were accomplishing what they came for.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What, When, Where and How?

It seems that most of the questions I have received in the last few weeks all began with one of the above words. I have been involved with health care for the last 60-odd years and understand your concerns. However, there is a big difference in what I hear today from what was asked in the past.

Fear! Fear for the future! I would like to quote President Franklin D. Roosevelt: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” When you look at your assets and then at your market, every HME provider should smile and roll up their sleeves. There is no need for fear, but for opportunity!

I am aware of what our legislators are trying to accomplish with the competitive bidding program. You must band together with your state DME and the national associations. They will lead the battle with your support. If you do not belong to them, please join with them.

You have to become a very aggressive marketer. Look at what the major supermarkets are doing. Big advertisements, all of which say “save money by shopping in my location.” You can also say it!

At Medtrade this year you will be able to find many opportunities. The exhibitors will show products, which can be very successfully marketed in your hometown. By working in tandem with these vendors you can develop new business, attract more clientele and increase both sales and profits. That won’t happen unless you and your staff all get behind these opportunities with a great deal of enthusiasm, hard work and effort. Is it worth all that? You bet it is!

“No great man ever complains of want of opportunity.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said this. It is only a couple of weeks until the doors will open at Medtrade. Come prepared to find those opportunities, which can be best exploited by your company, there, will be so much to see. Come early, and you will go home prepared to make the coming year your best ever.

Who, when, where or how? The answers will be found at Medtrade, October 24-27 in the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What You Can Do at Medtrade to Support AAHomecare

AAHomecare has taken the major problem our industry faces and has structured a very fine new program to replace the current competitive bidding program. AAHomecare has proposed a “MARKET-BASED MODEL” that makes a great deal of sense. This is the replacement plan that must be passed by Congress.

Every HME provider must support them 100%! What they are proposing will accomplish fair reimbursements and maintain competition with access and quality for the recipients. You must stop by their booth at Medtrade and attend their “Stand Up for Homecare” reception to show your support. If you are not currently a member of AAHomecare, please join.

Just a few items we have culled from this proposed legislation. The size of the market areas would be reduced. Clear quality standards and services will be maintained. Provider qualifications will be required! Beneficiaries will have the right to purchase the equipment they want and file a claim for the allowable. There is so much more in their proposal.

Speak with the AAHomecare staff at Medtrade. This is the best opportunity to make it known you are supporting them. You have to recognize how much AAHomecare does for all HME providers, not just for their members. That being the case, please become a member at Medtrade. That is just one of the many things that you can do at Medtrade. October 24-27 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Medtrade 2011 - It's Going to Be Busy

There will be so many things going on at Medtrade this year! I want to be sure you do not miss any of it. This is where you can meet with the many associations and people who are leading the fight versus the competitive bidding and the other onerous legislations.

At Medtrade, the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) holds its annual major fund-raising event, “Stand Up for Homecare.” Please attend it! The doors will open Tuesday, October 25 (5:30 PM to 7:00 PM), in the Maple Point Room at the Georgia World Congress. A modest check to support their efforts will gain you admission. Here, you will be able to network with all of the industry players while enjoying food and drink. Please add this to your activity list.

MK Battery will host its “Power for Funding” event. Proceeds from the event will go to NRRTS, AAHomecare and NCART. This year, MK Battery will be celebrating the company’s 25th year as a Medtrade exhibitor. This event will also be held Tuesday, at the Omni Hotel, from 5:30 PM until 8:30 PM. So you see, you can do both this and AAHomecare.

Walking on the show room floor will use up a great deal of energy. From 1:00 PM until 5:00 PM, please stop by the Medtrade Mixer, sponsored by Infopia USA for cool refreshment. Expo sponsors will give you a complimentary ticket or you can purchase one for a libation.

Thursday (10/27) has been set aside to be the Medtrade “Consumer Advocacy Day.” Here is where you can learn how to educate all your customers of the role you play as well as that of our industry.

What a show! There are so many activities scheduled for Medtrade this year. I have touched only on a few. The seminars, the manufacturer displays, the Accessible Home and Retail Design Center, Competitive Bidding Central and the New Product Pavilion are some of things there for you. Please come prepared for a good few days of work, education and new ideas to continue the growth and profitability of your company.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Deficit Reduction Plan and HME

I received a few phone calls asking me how the Deficit Reduction Plan President Obama recommends would affect our industry. I am not a legal expert, but decided to see how just much I could learn about it. I spent a weekend studying every magazine, newspaper, TV, radio and others to see what I could garner.

It is fascinating that everyone who talks or writes about this DRP has a different interpretation of the proposed legislation. So please draw your own conclusions. The following is only a summary of what I found out. They are the key parts of my thoughts, but there is so much more.

His entire proposal is to reduce the federal deficit by $3 trillion in 10 years. I do not know how much money a trillion dollars makes. My dictionary says it is 1 followed by 12 zeros but in Britain and Germany it is 1 followed by 18 zeros. Look at this in the U.S.: $1,000,000,000,000.00. (Wow!)

The plan as outlined wants to slash $248 billion from Medicare and $72 billion from Medicaid. Then he indicated that of the $248 billion, 90% of that would come from overpayments. (Overpayments?)

The president wants to raise taxes on the rich. I believe $250,000 income annually is the starting point. According to many financial articles there are many loopholes that these “richer” Americans can use to reduce what they report as income.

My comments:

I am sure that President Obama’s figures are correct, but from all the work that I have done on this topic, I feel that at least 40% (or more) of the over-payments come from cheating. Fraud and abuse are the culprits. How many HCPCS codes are raised to receive a higher payment? How many phony and fraudulent companies have been caught? How many are still in business?

There is no mention of raising the age a person become eligible from 65 to at least 67. This should be one of the first changes. I don’t see any negotiation efforts with pharmaceutical manufacturers to lower their prices. The newspapers report how profitable some major pharmaceutical companies are, so why not ask for their “help”. I see no limits placed on the many fraudulent lawsuits that take many dollars out of the system.

It is not fair to place the burden on DME/HME dealers and providers, who are the last step in the program, to bear the brunt of these reductions. How much will the competitive bid save the government? Nothing! It will force too many family and small companies to close. More unemployment, and less taxes collected, just what the country does not need.

All of this will be addressed at Medtrade. There you will find many answers. The Competitive Bid Central has been prepared for this specific purpose. Many of the speakers, AAHomecare, the state associations and other national ones, VGM, MED and the publications will all be at Medtrade. They have information. Please be sure that you, too, are there.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Nature of Politics

When I began this blog, I made a decision not to get involved in politics. However, when there has been the necessity to influence any pending legislation that can affect the ability for a provider to stay in business, then I have spoken out and asked for your participation.

At those critical times, I asked that HME providers to please contact their legislators and get their customers involved. This has only been done when something onerous to our industry was being debated in Congress. I have been careful not to identify any political party. It doesn’t matter if you speak to a Republican or a Democrat who has been elected. They must all be aware of what you and your clientele want. The important aspect of this is that they all be spoken to ASAP.

Charles de Gaulle stated my feelings perfectly: “Politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.” We must influence our elected congressmen.

It is vital they recognize what competitive bidding can do to our industry and, even more important, how it will affect their constituents. All of the “politicians” are seeking ways to create more jobs. Every HME provider who will have to close their doors will mean more unemployment and less tax dollars collected. Do they realize this?

At Medtrade, please be sure that you and your staff make many visits to Competitive Bidding Central. This is where you will get the necessary information to pass on to your customers and staff. It is imperative that you involve your clientele. Always keep in mind that without votes politicians do not get into office. It can be your best way to get their ears! Ronald Reagan summed things up for me: “Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize it bears a very close resemblance to the first.”
The schedule arranged at Medtrade for you and your staff to get to the Competitive Bidding Central allows plenty of time to attend. You must and the times they will be open in rooms B107 and B108 are:

• Tuesday, October 25, from 1.00 PM to 2:30 PM
• Tuesday, October 25, from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
• Wednesday, October 26 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM
• Thursday, October 27 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Tempus fugit, have you registered? Medtrade in Atlanta is from October 24 - 27 at the Georgia World Congress Center. If you have not registered, please do so at once.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Once again the Medtrade Accessible Home will be displayed at Medtrade for you to visit. The house will showcase a multitude of items all displayed in the correct rooms and will presented by Medtrade, Accessible Home Improvement of America and Nationwide Homes.

When you return home you will be able to tell customers, nurses, physicians and family caregivers about this. For the kitchen, toilet, bathroom, bedroom, garage, yard, there are specific items available for their comfort. The ability to stay at home is what people want!

You know your clientele. You are familiar with their problems and so it will be easy to provide information for them to make remaining at “home sweet home.”

There are a vast number of items now available that family caregivers will want . Again, at Medtrade, you will discover many new items that can provide for their comfort and convenience. There is not always the need for institutionalization. You will also see specialty design items you can tell to family caregivers, which will also lead to new sales.

Touring the Medtrade Accessible Home you will be able to identify many new retail opportunities. This is another reason to make the trip to Atlanta!

If you have not registered to attend please do so now. It is from October 24-27 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. Be there!