Associations make changes to drive growth

Friday, January 25, 2013

The year ahead promises plenty of challenges for the HME industry, so member organizations are taking steps to better prepare themselves.

For AAHomecare, one of those steps is increasing membership.

“As the industry’s voice on Capitol Hill, we’d rather be speaking for 800, 1,000, or 2,000 members,” said Tyler Wilson, president of AAHomecare. “With more members, we can speak with a louder voice.”

AAHomecare’s current membership stands closer to 400. To help increase that, and to help provider members who are tightening their belts, AAHomecare is lowering its dues by at least 8% for 2013—a move that will affect 95% of its membership, Wilson said.

AAHomecare in 2013 plans to continue its work on industry issues like the market-pricing program, audits and the power mobility demo, as well as help providers affected by Hurricane Sandy, Wilson says.

State associations are trying to preserve HME reimbursement in the face of state budget crunches—something the Midwest Association of Medical Equipment Suppliers (MAMES) expects to see more of as the Affordable Care Act expands Medicaid rosters in most states.

Something they hope will advance their efforts: hiring lobbyists, says Executive Director Rose Schafhauser.

“We have to have people to keep an eye on the state level for any issue that may crop up, and all of our members have full-time jobs,” said Schafhauser. “And we need someone who specializes in that area to make sure we’re not on the cutting floor.”

To pay for all that, MAMES revamped its dues structure for the first time since the 1980s, changing from a three-tiered system to a six-tiered system for 2013. Unfortunately, that means most members will see an increase based on annual revenues. Those increases will allow each state to “build a war chest” in anticipation of future battles, Schafhauser said.

“We’ve learned that, even if today things are great, that may not be the case tomorrow,” she said.