AAH: Gear up for 'Meek Week'

Saturday, December 19, 2009

WASHINGTON - AAHomecare has declared the week of Jan. 4 "Meek Week" in another push to increase the number of co-sponsors for a bill introduced by Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Fla., that would eliminate national competitive bidding.

As part of "Meek Week," AAHomecare encourages providers to meet with their representatives and lobby them to co-sponsor H.R. 3790. On Friday, the bill had 118 co-sponsors.

To make the most of the week, AAHomecare suggests that providers:

*    Call the local district office of your representative and schedule a time during the week for you to meet with him or his staff to express your support for H.R. 3790.

*    Invite the representative to your facility to make him familiar with the role of HME within the continuum of care in your community.

*    After you have scheduled a meeting, call the local media to tell them why you're meeting with your representative. Describe the value of home care in keeping seniors safe and independent at home.

*    Call and thank representatives who have already co-sponsored H.R. 3790 and urge them to speak with leadership in the House of Representatives about the importance of the bill.

AAHomecare will hold a conference call today at 1 p.m. EST to discuss these strategies. To participate, call 712-432-0111. Use the code 246862#.

The industry continues to turn up the heat on representatives that haven't co-sponsored H.R. 3790. Last week, the Texas Alliance of Home Care Services (TAHCS) coordinated a phone-a-thon for the bill. Providers, consumers and doctors targeted 24 representatives from the state.

"All 24 members of Congress received calls from a number of people," said Barry Johnson, president of TAHCS and president of Texas Medical in Duncanville, Texas. "What we heard was that they're not opposed to the bill, but many of them don't want to totally scrap competitive bidding. But as conversations continued, they started leaning toward the bill, because of all the problems with the program. The general gist of the conversations: Many of the members went from flat, 'Nos' to 'Let me take another look at the bill.'"

Also last week, AAHomecare delivered a letter to Meek signed by 42 organizations, including the ALS Association, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and state and regional associations.