Batten down the hatches

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Sunday, February 29, 2004

Publisher, HME News
R. Rector

I read the news today, oh boy”, begins the old Beatles song. And anyone reading the last few issues of HME News might have the same or an even stronger reaction.

Whether we’re talking about the Medicare Prescription Drug Act, the new, more highly restrictive criteria for K0011s or the endless chatter about fraud and abuse, our industry has seen better days. Indeed, a friend in the business sent me an e-mail commenting that after he read the latest issue “…it was all I could do to not throw myself off a 10-story building!”

I hear what he’s saying. We face more than our fair share of challenges. But remember: This is an industry that has weathered many storms over the years (BBA ’97 and the Six Point Plan come to mind). There’s no reason to think we won’t do it again.

Of all the challenges we currently face, what bothers me most is the perception that all HMEs are bad guys, out to defraud their customers, Medicare and other payors. Providers have endured and fought to change this perception for years, but to no avail. For whatever reasons, the industry has become an easy target for attacks from the government and the mass media. These repeated accusations of fraud have lead to over-regulation by government and lots of restrictions from private insurers.

How frustrating. Those of us in the industry know that the vast majority of HMEs are honest business people, highly dedicated individuals providing a much-needed service to the public. One only has to look at the winners of the HME Excellence Awards to get an idea of some of the outstanding companies in our industry.

In her President’s Memorandum of February 9, Kay Cox, president and CEO of AAHomecare, lays out some very ambitious legislative and regulatory goals for 2004. They provide an excellent plan to deal with the recent problems of over-legislation. But, the industry needs to stand up for the rights of its customers and its own right to make a reasonable profit for the goods and services we deliver. We need to strive at every opportunity to thwart those giving the business a bad name and to tell the good news about HME. That way, we break the cycle of bad perceptions and earn the respect we deserve.

What do you think?

What can we do? E-mail me with your comments: rrector@hmenews.com .

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