Tuesday, December 30, 2014

We are Lucky

There are times when we all should sit back, just to relax and think. Between Christmas and New Year's has always been what I call my “re-evaluation” period to see what I have accomplished or where I fell short for the past 12 months.

I always try very hard, going back to 1950 when I graduated from College of Pharmacy, married Thelma, and then we started our career in “health-care” to share only the good things that happened. It had always been "we". Our goal was to share positive things and warn of pitfalls. The most exciting thing we did was working with DME dealers and providers to build the Home Care Dealers Co-op, which is still alive with VGM.

Another happy period was writing Shelly Sez for many years in HomeCare Magazine, and now preparing the Shelly Sounds Off blog for Medtrade. Without Thelma editing all of my writing, very little of this would ever have been seen.

All I can say is that the years went by so quickly, and Thelma and I hope we have had some influence and provided a bit of the “guidance” as we wished we could.

Since we are both in our late 80’s we have made our “plans” for 2015. We look forward with a great deal of excitement to participating again at Medtrade Spring in Las Vegas and then for the Atlanta meeting in the fall.

I can think of nothing that can do as much for every DME/HME dealer than attending both fabulous expositions. One claim to “fame” I am proud of is that I have been to every one to date! Thelma may have missed a few because she kept busy with our children and grandchildren. How about that?

I will continue writing my blog and enjoying reading the many excellent publications of our industry. The HME News and Homecare Magazine are so important, and look at the number of specialty magazines available to the industry. Yes indeed, we are lucky, aren’t we?

Friday, December 26, 2014


Communication is the ability to pass information to one another.

I use this blog to send thoughts about how to help improve your company’s operation. Many of the ideas that are shared with you come from other DME dealers.

Communication is a two-way street. I learned this some seventy years ago when I had a government job! The value and importance of listening and working with one-another cannot ever be ignored. This has been what I have always followed! So you must do the same: Communicate.

When you receive a message, please respond. The best example I can give you is how AAHomecare and the state DME associations are working so diligently to get some very special legislation passed. This will dramatically help our industry. To do this they require additional funds! The dealers who are members of these associations do their best!

There are far too many DME/HME companies who are not dues-paying members. Yet, when there is a success, they also benefit. I ask all non-belonging dealers to communicate with AAHomecare and their state associations. Tell them you will get on board.

Gather together and provide the funds as a dues-paying member. Then, the coming year, 2015, will be the best ever. So please communicate with an application for membership and your check to AAHomecare.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

December 25, 2014

This is an important day for everyone. It is the day when people gather together to say “Thank You” for all the blessings they have received.

My feelings are best demonstrated in a song we know so well:

“America, The Beautiful”:
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain.
For purple mountain majesties,
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood,

From sea to shining sea.

This day is set aside for all of us to gather our families together and
show all the love we have for one another.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Count Your Blessings

You own your business! You have some truly excellent employees! Despite so many efforts to take away some of the reimbursements you earn for your services, you continue blissfully working long hours to maintain your company and stay solvent.

Now all of the above is negative! This is why I say, “Count your blessings!” You still own and operate your company. You have many customers, clients and patients who depend on you. You have loyal employees who work for you. These are all blessings!

I received a fascinating “State of the Industry 2014” report from HME News. The numbers, which they reported, were encouraging. If you have received this report as well, study the information very carefully to see where and how your company fits. It should also be available for viewing online in the next few weeks.
After you have digested all the material, please give it to your accountant. Ask your key employees to study it. Certainly once again you can count your blessings.
A new year approaches. In a matter of just a few weeks, we will enjoy the holidays and plan for the coming year. This is a blessing: free time! Take this free time you get to very carefully review all of the segments of your company. Armed with loads of information, write a new “BUSINESS PLAN FOR 2015".
Please include the following items for next year:
  • Membership in your state DME association
  • Membership to AAHomecare
In addition to membership dues, set aside sufficient funds to help fight the threatening legislation, and encourage solutions. Be sure you respond to every request to contact your representatives. Plan now to attend both the spring and the fall Medtrade Exhibitions.
Do all of the above! Get every employee involved! They also depend on your company for their livelihood. You will find there are many blessings you can count!
Say: Thank God!

Friday, December 19, 2014


Let all the dealers and providers who make up the DME/HME industry use the time available until the New Year comes to do a few vital things for the future. Reviewing the year will provide the tools to both stay in business and expand sales and profits. Here are a couple of action items to complete before you break for the holidays:

1. Meet with Your Accountant: Set up a brief meeting with your accountant and study where your dollars came from; which segments provided the best profits and which were losing money. You may be pleasantly surprised or greatly shocked, but either way you must use this knowledge as the starting place needed to make future plans. I have had the privilege of working with many DME/HME companies over the years, and I can tell you this is valuable information.
2. Work with your Staff: When you have the facts, then you can work with your staff. If some employees have specific responsibilities, together with them go over all of the information showing cost, profit, loss, and potential. When your employee understands what this means, you win! If the picture is brighter than you anticipated, a raise in salary solidifies your employee.

My experience is that when an employee is given a big responsibility, they will perform much more than you can imagine. This is truly “win-win.”

I worked as a consultant for a very active dealer in Rochester, upstate N.Y. This gentleman reviewed four employees. Each was responsible for their department, as well as doing other things necessary for the company. He met with them once a week. This type of communication made for very close co-operation,

You all can do something similar! When you take advantage of the free time each holiday brings, it is easy to prepare for the New Year.

Note: If you have not yet registered for Medtrade Spring, early rates are in effect through January 4th. Don't wait, register for Medtrade Spring now.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Make Things Happen: You have the power!

Daily, you receive e-mails, phone calls, letters, magazines, and many other communications. Do you listen and read these things or continue to wonder about upcoming events?

In the last few weeks I have received several messages asking me about what lies ahead for our industry. Invariably I answer these the same way, because I tell the caller they provide the ideas for coming events. We must all work to see them succeed. I am pleased with the many publications available, which offer answers suggesting ways to remain successful. Please study these carefully! This is where you will find the answers.

When you recognize how hard your state DME associations and AAHomecare work on your behalf, do you say, "Thank You"? The best way to express your gratitude is by becoming a dues paying member! There are far too many DME/HME dealers who are not members of their state association or AAHomecare. They must realize if they joined, much more positive legislation would get through Congress.

A great deal is at stake for our industry. There is so much pending that needs to be passed. Work with the associations to make this happen.

The cost of membership is so little, but if you find yourself being forced to close or greatly reduce your operation, was it worth the few dollars you saved by not joining?

Our industry, DME/HME, must become very strong. As business people, we all have one goal, which is ROI: return on investment.” Join forces with AAHomecare and your state association - “Let us make things happen.”

Monday, December 15, 2014


The end of 2014 is rapidly approaching! This has been a very hectic year, and DME/HME providers and dealers have still not been recognized for the wonderful way they have taken care of their senior citizens and patients. Instead, they are under attack because so much money has been stolen from the system by a multitude of thieves that there is little left for providers.

There must be a way to prevent these dishonest entities from finding ways to defraud and steal! When they are caught, they easily disappear or re-open under another name.

It has been my pleasure to hear from so many dealers in the U.S. who wish to change the system. When I see how diligently the state DME associations and AAHomecare work to bring this about, I believe we can make the necessary changes.

To achieve this, a great deal of money is required. The dollars these associations require to get these changes made comes from membership dues. Everything they have already accomplished has benefitted all DME/HME dealers, not just their members. If every DME/HME dealer becomes a dues paying member of AAHomecare and their state association, our industry will succeed.

Unhappily, these days I see far too many fine DME/HME dealers closing their doors, and that frightens me. Companies who have been servicing their communities for many years, providing the needs of all senior citizens, ailing, bed-ridden patients and others in need, are vanishing. We cannot allow this to continue happening.

The super markets run a promo “buy one, get one” free and they move a great deal of merchandise. Since every dealer today wants to remain solvent and stay active, I ask they each do the following:

Please call all your competitors, every friend, and every other DME/HME dealer you can reach. Ask them to become a member of AAHomecare and their state association. You will be effective! When you explain all the benefits of membership and how minimal the cost is, they will come on board.
That is a great deal; far better than letting the door close. This small investment will go a very long way, which is why you are making this effort. We can no longer allow another DME/HME dealer vanish!

Friday, December 12, 2014

State Licensure

You are aware that in other health care programs, in order to provide services, the company must demonstrate they are competent and understand everything required. But HME/DME has still has not prepared the correct regulations to participate. There is NO license required! Accreditation is a giant step forward; however, I still see many practitioners who should not be allowed to participate in Medicare or Medicaid.

I believe each state must issue a license to show the company is capable to provide the many things involved. This must come from the State Board of Pharmacy or its equivalent. If you only want to drive a vehicle, you have to get a permit from the State Board of Motor Vehicles. Some kind of proof that you have learned all that is required to function in DME/HME.

To become a registered pharmacist, I had to acquire a degree in pharmacy. The next step was to pass very strict board exams by the State Board of Pharmacy. When I wanted to open my pharmacy, there were other rules and regulations. The same applies for other health care services; one must prove they are a professional in order to do business!

But why not the same for DME/HME? The principal earns their license and then the location, prior to opening, is inspected to be sure every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed. Then permission to become a dealer and be allowed to bill Medicare, etc., for services rendered should be earned. All this is the responsibility of the State Board of Pharmacy or its equivalent. I am comfortable in feeling that the same inspectors can monitor DME/HME along with Pharmacy,

The key to this is that a license can be revoked or suspended when found in violation of any rules and regulations. Without a doubt, most DME/HME providers and dealers run very legitimate operations. State licensure for DME/HME will keep out many companies and undesirables who do not meet the standards.

I would like to see a congressman introduce this legislation to be passed with HR 1717- Medicare Market Pricing Program Act of 2013, HR 4920- Medicare Competitive Bidding Act Improvement Act of 2014, and HR 5083- Medicare Audit Improvement and Reform Act of 2014.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Make Things Happen

As you walk through your office and showroom you will see that there are many opportunities waiting for you. You will notice items that have been on display but show little action. You have to recognize the inventory items that turn over rapidly. The goal is to make many more match the active products.

Promote! When you have chosen the products, contact the manufacturer and invite their salesperson to work with you. Showcase one product at a time and allow two or three weeks between promotions. When you speak with the salesperson, together choose the dates and items you will feature.

Now start promoting.  Place advertisements in the local newspaper and radio station. Contact all your referral sources to ask for their support. This is a critical step. The sharp dealers make it a person-to-person call, not via the telephone or e-mail. You will be pleasantly surprised when they all share ideas with you. Listen to them, because they want this to be as effective as possible. They, too, have a lot at stake!

A dealer on the West Coast told me that he always had a table with cookies and a pot of coffee being monitored by an employee.

The day you choose to promote your item should be a Saturday from 10:00AM until about 3:00PM. Over the years, I have heard from many DME/HME dealers and with no exception, they have all reported very profitable days.

You can “make things happen.” Your key employees should be very involved as you slowly put everything in place. In that fashion, your team will understand their contribution is of great value.

Monday, December 8, 2014


STAT means “at once.”

A Republican senator from Ohio, Rob Portman, and a Democrat from Maryland, Ben Cardin, introduced S.2975. This is the Senate version of H.R. 4920, which our industry is working very hard to get passed. There is only another week that Congress will be in session, so PLEASE act now.

Call and e-mail your senators to get it passed STAT (at once). Basically, we are asking that Congress pass the “Medicare Competitive Bidding Improvement Act".

There is no tomorrow. Do it STAT.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Truth

How can anybody describe what TRUTH is? Does it mean honesty, trustworthiness, loyalty, or sincerity? Is it all of the above or none?

Rotarians throughout the world open their meetings with “IS IT THE TRUTH?" I have looked in my dictionary and in my thesaurus to find the correct words to describe truth. I am not the only person seeking that answer. Emily Dickinson said: “Truth is such a rare thing, it is delightful to tell it.”  Mark Twain told us: “When in doubt, tell the truth.” So what is the truth?

I had been hoping that after the Thanksgiving Holiday, when we all were grateful for what we have achieved, the truth would prevail. A new Congress would then open in 2015 and we would hear that the United States, as a country, would roll up its sleeves and work for its citizens, not for a "party". But I still have not heard it.

If our elected congressmen would sit down together, speak like gentlemen to one another, and work for all the citizens of the US, we might see many changes. As long as we are torn apart, people like the dictators and some countries and “religious groups” will continue to do two things:
  1. It appears that they will accept the good money that Uncle Sam sends them as a personal gift.
  2. They will ask for more.
Since WWII ended in 1945 we have been involved in a war. It may be called a “police action” or a “joint effort with allies”, but it still is war! Despite the growing number of fine young Americans who give their lives, has the world changed in any fashion?
I have not heard the truth from any of the newly elected politicians or from those still in Congress, and I am so ashamed of what I see and hear. I beg all of the politicians to stop and ask themselves before they speak “is it the truth?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Harvey Diamond

Harvey Diamond,
Chairman of the Board and CEO
of Drive Medical
Harvey Diamond and I go back more than 30 years. We have always been good friends. I am very proud seeing how he has built his company, Drive Medical, into one of the most active and valuable resources for all DME/HME providers and dealers.

At the “Stand Up for Homecare” gathering that AAHomecare sponsors every year, Harvey stood-up. The room was filled to capacity. There were close to 400 dealers and other guests all enjoying a libation and some tasty finger food. When he spoke, he was not bashful. Harvey asked for better and more participation from every dealer.

One of the problems I am struggling to resolve is that an insufficient number of DME/HME companies are members of AAHomecare and their state associations. All dealers and providers benefit from their labor, not just those who belong. When I realize how much more can be accomplished if many more companies got on board as dues paying members, I become even more determined to help fill in the ranks.

I believe these words are exactly what Harvey said: “Check your egos at the door.” Despite how noisy the room was, I heard those words. The rest of his talk was equally vital. He challenged everyone in the industry to send in a $1,000.00 check to AAH. He said we all should solicit friends and other dealers to do the same, and I agree.

This is the most important effort for every dealer: Put your hand in your pocket and send funds and your membership application, if you are not yet a member. Click here to join AAHomecare now.
Send your checks to:

American Association for Homecare
1707 L Street NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20036

Monday, December 1, 2014

Earn a License

As an industry that services the community, DME/HME has become an integral part of the “health” chain in the United States. Our companies work with the physicians, nurses, hospitals, long term care facilities, family caregivers and patients.

We treat every one of our customers with all the care possible and do everything we can to ensure they get the maximum benefits of what we supply.

The cost of healthcare in the United States has grown far out of proportion! The funds necessary to maintain the high quality of services are diminishing. Why? What has happened?

This is not hard to answer. To become a physician, a registered nurse or a pharmacist, one requires a license! After showing they have the necessary skills, a license is then issued by the state.

If you wish to become a DME/HME provider, you have little more to do than say, “I am,” to open a location.

When a person is arrested for a crime and found guilty, they face prison or hefty fines. Those DME/HME “dealers,” when they reach a level where they may be investigated, just change their company name, close the old company and continue getting reimbursements for the invoices they submit.

Earning a license, having standards for the operation, and being subjected to investigation without notice is what a pharmacist and the other license holders face. Not DME/HME. We are professionals and must be recognized as such.

Earning a license to become a DME/HME provider is the answer. Let us make that happen!