Associations consider banding together

Thursday, October 28, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - Four state associations are tossing around the idea of forming one large regional association, although the idea is in the "infancy stage," say insiders.

"We just started talks," said George Kucka, executive director of the Association of Indiana Home Medical Equipment Services (AIHMES). "Given the realities of the economy and the industry, we're checking it out."

The other states at the table are Kentucky, Illinois and Ohio, whom Kucka reached out to, in part, because of declining membership in AIHMES, which currently has about 60 members.

"The body count keeps getting thinner," said Kucka.

There is strength in numbers, agrees Kam Yuricich, executive director of the Ohio Association of Medical Equipment Services (OAMES), which boasts about 160 members.

"Collaborating and working with our fellow state associations could strengthen everyone's voice," she said. "But it's very much in the infancy stage. We are trying to discuss whether we even want to take a next step."

So far, the effort consists of a committee comprised of two members from each association. Kucka also has a proposal from a consultant who would perform "due diligence," including looking at all the bylaws, organizational structures, types of memberships and so forth of all four associations.

"He'll throw them all into a meat grinder and come up with some sort of guideline as to what we might look at for an organization," said Kucka. "Once we have a better idea what we are looking at, (we'll make a decision)."