Monday, September 30, 2013


I spoke with a number of exhibitors about the Medtrade Exhibition and Conference. I was anxious to hear what they had to say about Competitive Bidding, the pressure for MPP and a general view of the industry.

The answers I received were encouraging; I did not hear any “sackcloth and ashes". I heard professionals telling me the market is constantly changing, as they must do. The vendors are preparing to assist and cooperate with dealers for mutual benefit.

Who will be walking the exhibit floor? Certainly not those dealers who are crying that they cannot afford this expense. Many of them will just fade away.

The dealers who understand their market will be at Medtrade because they want to continue their growth. They will be bringing staff, attending seminars, workshops, lectures, and visiting as many displays as possible. They will return from Medtrade with a new attitude.

The vendors look with anticipation to meet the providers who are working with AAHomecare and their state DME Associations. They want to have the “competitive bid” eliminated as much as we do. They have just as much at stake.

Towards that end, many said they will be demonstrating and introducing new products and new methods to obtain additional market share. They can do that when they find the aggressive dealers who are the backbone of DME/HME.

Vendors want to partner with dealers who are giving their “all” to protect their patients and family caregivers. They are willing to give 110%, because that is what they see attendees doing. Together, both the vendor and the provider will become a formidable force!

This is only a preview! It is difficult to describe what you will uncover and discover in Orlando. It will be something very special.

Friday, September 27, 2013

I Did It

Here is a list of things that every DME/HME provider or dealer should already have done - If not, please do so now. Tell me that:
1.)  I have obtained my admission to the Medtrade Exhibition and Convention in Orlando, October  8-10, at the Orange County Convention Center. I will see you there!
2.) I am a dues paying member of AAHomecare.
3.) I am active in my state DME association.
I will leave this as a short list, just the above three items.

When I speak with the officers and team members at AAHomecare and to the various professionals who head up the state DME associations, it becomes crystal clear. The obstacle is that there are not a sufficient number of DME/HMEs who are dues paying members.

Since I am a COC (cantankerous old curmudgeon), I decided to call several DME dealers in various parts of the U.S. When informed they were members of either or both, I thanked them and asked for the telephone number of another dealer.

None of the others hung up on me. It seemed they recognized my name and I heard basically the same two complaints:
a.)  We cannot afford the annual dues.
b.)  What have they accomplished? We still have the Competitive Bid to live with.

When I pointed out how much the state associations and AAHomecare with their dues paying members have already successfully accomplished, they listened. I then explained how effective they would be with everyone’s support. They did promise to look into this differently. The fear of being forced out of business is hanging over their heads. It is hanging over all of us.

Please, if you are a member, contact all the other DME/HME dealers in your market. This has proven to be the most effective way I know to build membership. You know who they are and you understand all local difficulties that have to be addressed.

Call me to say “Shelly, I did it.” Send me an e-mail ( Please tell me the name and address of the “new” team player. If you got a negative answer, send me their address. Let’s see if we (you and I) can start the ball rolling!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Thank You, Representative Thompson

I receive reports from the state associations when they have won the support of their representatives in Washington. The officers who run these associations are working as hard as they can to gather support behind our cause. If they and AAHomecare could get at least 90% of the DME/HME dealers and providers to become dues paying members, I believe they would have already been successful in this battle.

Thank you to Representative Glen Thompson (R, PA), aka “GT”, for his support and comments. I really appreciate how he summed up the competitive bid legislation: “It’s shown to be anything but competitive.”

The Congressman also echoed what we have been saying: “Over the past several years, we've seen the program negatively affect seniors and force small medical companies – many that are local and the only entity capable of providing quality goods and a high level of service – out of the market.”

A great deal of credit for earning Congressman Thompson’s’ support goes to the Pennsylvania DME dealers and the efforts of John Shirvinsky, Executive Director of  PAMS.  Efforts like this are being replicated throughout the United Sates.

I don’t have the space to identify every state association; there are more than forty. Each is superb, but here are just a few that I hear from often (thank you):
ADMEA, Mike Hamilton
MAMES, Rose Schafhauser
NEMED, Karyn Estrella

I receive emails from many others not mentioned above, as well as from AAHomecare. I hope to thank you all personally in Orlando at Medtrade. I know that the more quickly every state's DME/HME providers commit to membership, the more quickly HR 1717 will move out of committee and on to the next crucial step.  

This is a reminder to our industry that we must make every effort to bring membership in these associations close to 95% of the dealers as dues paying members. Can we do that? If we want to exist we have no choice, do we?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Memo to State DME Associations

Below is a copy of a memo I sent to each state association. I am posting it here for all of you with the hope that if you are not currently a member of your state association and AAHomecare, now is the time to change that.

Thank you,

Memo to State DME Associations

It is less than one month until the Medtrade Conference & Exhibition opens in Orlando. Since I have had the good fortune of attending every Medtrade, I can say there never has been a more critical time for our industry.

If we could just get the Competitive Bid Legislation erased, we would be taking a giant step forward, and one of the goals of Medtrade is to help influence that happening!

I wanted to send this email to acknowledge the amazing amount of good work the state DME associations have accomplished to date. Yes, we still have a long way to go, and the answer to reach all goals depends on the rest of the DME/HME proprietors. Your members are aware, but there are the “Freddy the Free Loaders” who have to pitch in by becoming dues paying members ASAP.

I have seen the many efforts and requests you have sent your members to get HR1717 out of committee and passed. I am an optimist and I anticipate this will become a reality. Between the work you have each put into this, and with the support of AAHomecare, things are starting to look much more hopeful.

Yes, as I said above, my major concern is that there are far too many DME/HME dealers or providers who do not join, do not contribute and don’t even say “thank you” to their state DME association. In my opinion, it’s a real problem.

I hope to see all of you in Orlando. If for any reason you will be unable to attend, I will try to keep you updated via an occasional memo like this or in my “Shelly Sounds Off" blog.

HMENews and HomeCare Magazine cover these events in much greater detail than I do. Aren't we fortunate to have these high quality sources for information, guidance, and news?

Please continue sending me your email releases that I enjoy so much ( I hope to see you at Medtrade.

Thank you.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tempus Fugit

Time flies!

As an industry, we have to roll up our sleeves and make every effort possible to get HR1717, the Medicare DMEPOS Market Pricing Program Act of 2013 out of committee and passed. If it is not, then 2014 will be another frustrating year for DME/HME providers and dealers. If we want to remain solvent, we have to act now and act in unison. There are only a few months left in 2013 and Tempus Fugit!

AAHomecare, the state DME associations, the manufacturers, the buying groups, and the industry publications are doing everything possible to get 100% support from our entire industry.

It will soon be too late to eliminate the existing legislation which we know as the “COMPETITIVE BID.” How are the beneficiaries fairing? Throughout the country they have to go to many different locations to get their supplies. Some as far as another state. We have an extremely long list of the complaints.

What are you doing to help get HR1717 passed? Too many of you are doing nothing! We all must finance these efforts, or your company may face oblivion. Write your checks and send as much as possible ($200, $300, $500, or more) to both your state DME association and AAHomecare. Take action TODAY!

IT IS VITAL that they get your support, because I fear that if they don't, we will see far too many friends and associates disappear.

Monday, September 16, 2013


When it became the law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) legislation opened up many new doors. Nursing home sales beckoned, hospitals became a market which could be “cherry picked,” industry could be serviced, and selling to clinics and physicians would now be considered an opportunity. Get a copy of the legislation, underline some items, and give it to your outside salesperson. A great tool! Any legislation aimed for the general public well-being should be utilized to build sales.

Some DME providers are allowing excellent employees to leave and then watch all the knowledge they have about your company walk out the door. A few months ago I spoke to an old friend, whose bid was rejected as “too high”. She told me what her company did.

This entrepreneur sat down with two of her salespeople and told them they had to carry the ball and score if the company was to survive. She had NO intention of asking them to leave. They spoke about the market and found so many potential areas for sales that the salespeople could hardly wait to start. She went a step further and called on all her manufacturer reps for help. They offered to ride “shot gun” with the salespeople and show them how best to sell their products. They also did “Dog & Pony” classes for the inside staff.

Did this work? I was told that in the first two months they were on the road, sales had increased by close to 15%. She brought both salespeople to Las Vegas for Medtrade and is bringing them again to the Fall Medtrade in Orlando. Her salespeople use their copy of the ADA act as a Sales Bible.

Innovation will help move your company up a notch!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Stay in Business

As we look around, we see many things happening which impact the home health care business. It seems as if CMS and Medicare think they can balance their budget by reducing reimbursements to DME/HME providers. All they will reduce is the number of dealers who provide superb service while dramatically increasing the difficulties of the beneficiaries trying to obtain their supplies.

I have to assume the officials of CMS and Medicare do not read the newspapers. If they did, they would see how much money is being siphoned out of the system by hospitals, clinics, physicians and so many others. I almost never ever see a DME/HME provider involved in any of this fraud. Nobody is really sure of how home care supplies will be dispensed in the next few years, or how managed care in any guise will affect our ability to exist.

Are we all ostriches, just burying our heads in the sand and hoping for something good to happen? Or are we entrepreneurs who will seek those opportunities which will enable us to flourish despite any changes in the market that may occur?

But, changes do not just happen. You cannot sit back and wait to see what tomorrow will bring. I assure you the companies and people who are harvesting the crop of dollars from Medicare, etc., are busy working diligently to make sure they keep what they have.

I write this with tears in my eyes because no matter how hard the state DME associations and AAHomecare work to get everyone on board and get the MPP bill passed, we still have NOT reached the number of signed Congressmen to have that accomplished.

PLEASE participate in the “Stand Up for Homecare” reception at Medtrade, Tuesday evening! Meet Tom Ryan, AAHomecare's new President and CEO. Let him know that he has universal support from all DME/HME dealers and providers.

If for any reason you are unable to attend Medtrade, then please write a $200 check payable to the STOP COMPETITIVE BIDDING FUND*. That small pittance, when added together with all the funds being raised, will be an investment to keep you in business. Isn't that a good ROI? "Staying in business?"

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Letter to Congressman Posey

Here is the letter I just wrote to Congressman Posey, who represents Florida's 8th District. You can absolutely do the same. Each letter, each call, each show of support for our cause makes a difference.

September 10, 2013
The Honorable Bill Posey,  U.S. House of Representatives

Dear Bill:

We really were delighted to receive your message, "Re: “Government Spending Accountability Act”. When I was in business, if I had run things the same way Washington does, I would have been unable to retire (I am in my 87th year), and I would have ended up bankrupt. We can’t allow this to happen to the USA.

I promise to support HR 313 to the best of my ability, and I will get all my associates to do the same. When I realize how many dollars are spent for Government Conferences, I am appalled. Since all of these could be held in DC, not at fancy resorts, how much money would have been saved?

Just what was spent by agencies seeking private sector expenses (only $340 million) would have gone a great deal further if those dollars were spent to fight fraud and abuse in health care. IRS, Las Vegas, and many of the other “conferences” should not be at expensive hotels or other fancy locations when there are so many other less costly arenas to hold them.

Two members of your staff (Ms. Gillespie and Mr. Gavin) will be attending our special “coffee break” during the Medtrade Exhibition inOrlando. To minimize double costs, many industry associations hold their meetings during Medtrade. This assures better attendance and saves mega-dollars.

I just want to say THANK YOU for your support of the MPP Bill (HR1717) and I will notify all of our “team” to get involved and support you as our Congressman, one who cares about all the citizens of District 8!

Very truly yours,


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fed Up With Medicare?

Every DME/HME provider hears this constantly from their clientele: We are fed up with Medicare! They complain to their local dealer, and/or are often obliged to obtain their supplies elsewhere.

If this isn't a travesty, what is? Medicare was originally set up to be a service allowing patients to obtain supplies from their preferred LOCAL vendor. Prices were affixed and were fair. But when a patient in Melbourne is forced to go to Orlando, about 50 miles away, to get their supplies, do they make the journey or do without?

Local Dealer Does His Part to Collect Complains from Clientele

So, a local dealer placed this sign in his store in response to our industry's current situation. Yes, it gets attention. He is gathering complaints from beneficiaries to bring to the attention of his Congressman, CMS and Medicare.

Please do whatever you can to gather all these complaints and bring them to Congress.

Thank you.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

EMT Cash Sales

“Sales to EMT Squads.” Locating EMT squads is not difficult. There are volunteer ambulance services throughout the country. Every hamlet, village and city has people who will respond when there is an accident or a need. Every police and fire department in the country has trained EMT personnel. Universities, colleges, and schools all have people who can respond to an emergency and that are trained for most contingencies.
OSHA has mandated that large companies and other places where people gather, such as arenas and stadiums, all be prepared for any occurrence. Many of them will have emergency trained personnel, nurses, or EMTs available. There are EMTs just waiting to see you.
Where do these squads currently obtain their supplies? Most of them buy from mail order companies. They send a catalog, including order forms with a place for a credit card number or for a check with order. The freight terms are on the order form, so they collect their dollars before the items are shipped. Neat, isn't that? The negative result is that you have allowed this business to slip away from your company. Fortunately, this loss can be recovered easily with a little effort.
Most dealers offer respiratory therapy as a standard discipline. Everything that you normally stock for the RT department is usually the same as used by an EMT. There are very few items that you will need to add to your inventory. As your sales become more sophisticated, you will find yourself stocking many more items, which means you have developed another niche for your company. 
Follow this up at Medtrade next month. The vendors will be there!

See how many new ways you can enhance your business in Orlando. I will see you there!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Things You Can Do

There are so many easy things that every DME/HME dealer can easily do to help keep their business growing.

The obvious is marketing! We have tried, via this blog, to provide new program ideas and remind you of other effective means, which have proven very successful. One of the first ones that stands out is to hold an “OPEN HOUSE” in co-operation with your preferred vendors. I bring this up for discussion first because we are only a few weeks away from the major Medtrade in Orlando. Medtrade is the place where you will find opportunities.

A number of very successful dealers I know tell me that they try to do an Open House in their showroom at least once every two months. Some of these have attracted such a large audience that they have had to start holding them at a local school or church where they had access to larger space.

Some examples are with blood pressure monitors. Your primary source will work with you, bring lots of handouts, take everyone's BP, and often two dozen or more units were sold at the Open House alone. The same can be done with many different OTC cash sales items. Speak with your vendors at Medtrade; they will be delighted to set dates and work with you.

There will be a large number of new items for your attention at the Exhibition. Examine every item displayed in the New Product Pavilion. Recently I heard from a gentleman who sells clothing. His are inexpensive, easy to wash, and designed for the elderly. Certainly different, and I anticipate seeing many new items such as these in Orlando at Medtrade.

Don't forget to use promotional code MTShelly to get a Free Expo Pass when you register for Medtrade, if you have not done so already. Early Bird Rates are available until this Friday, September 6th.