AAHomecare's next chairman: Joel Marx

Sunday, February 27, 2011

CLEVELAND - When provider Joel Marx is expected to take over as AAHomecare's chairman of the board this month, don't expect him to rabble rouse about competitive bidding and other issues impacting the HME industry. Don't get him wrong: He knows these issues are important. But the association's capable staff and committee members have that covered. Marx feels his job is to get more providers involved in improving the industry's image. Here's what Marx, the president of Cleveland-based Medical Service Co., had to say about the state of AAHomecare and the industry.

HME News: How do you plan to leave your mark on the association?

Joel Marx: The most important thing for me to do is to get more providers involved. We're doing a lot of things to encourage that, like hiring a director of membership sales and marketing (see page 10), and lowering our dues. I believe a national association is only as strong as its members. I hope that I can say a year from now that we have more engagement from more members.

HME: What's the association's biggest obstacle going forward?

Marx: Everyone always reacts to specific issues, but those are going to be there all the time. What we need to do is send the message that our industry has a heart. We do things for the right reasons and we take care of patients. That's what we do and why we love what we do. But we have to do it smarter. Home care is also the most cost effective place for health care. It's a better value than it's given credit for.

HME: So you want engagement on a more regular basis, not just when a specific issue like competitive bidding comes up.

Marx: Correct. There needs to be engagement every day.

HME: How will that make a difference?

Marx: There needs to be an understanding that the atmosphere in Washington right now is vicious toward everyone in health care and our successes are sometimes measured by how we survive. So acknowledging that every part of health care is going to be hit, how do we minimize our losses? I'm not sure that, in today's environment, we can expect not to take a reduction in reimbursement.

HME: How has being an AAHomecare member helped your business?

Marx: It has given me the ability to interact on a bigger scale with those much smarter than me and to learn how to take my company from one location to more than one, how to determine what positions I need going forward. I don't think you can put a dollar value on it. I think it's foolish to think you can learn without exposing yourself outside of your own company, but it takes an investment of dollars and time.

HME: Do you feel that the HME industry is fractured?

Marx: I don't think it is. The leads of the other organizations are members of AAHomecare. The other organizations all appeal to a specific niche of the industry. They all bring value and if they disappeared, I don't believe the industry would be as vibrant. Would I like all of their members to be AAHomecare members? Certainly. If they're a member of AAHomecare, that's great; if they're not, they just need to stay involved with any of the organizations.