Change is constant

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It was nice while it lasted.

In July, when Congress delayed national competitive bidding for 18 to 24 months, many in the HME industry breathed a sigh of relief. Here at HME News, we did, too. After spending months writing about the ups and downs of the industry’s attempts to delay the program, we were happy for some resolution.

In the days after the delay, however, we got to half-seriously thinking: “What are we going to write about now?” For as long as we could remember, the providers and industry stakeholders whom we telephoned for story ideas could talk about nothing else.

Let’s just say we haven’t been spending the last days of summer twiddling our thumbs and neither have you.

A quick flip through the October issue shows that even with competitive bidding in check, the industry is still on the precipice of big changes. On pages 1, 8 and 62, we write about the Nov. 4 elections, which have the potential to dramatically shift the country’s direction. What will that mean for health care, and more specifically, for home medical equipment?

Also on page 1, we write about RESNA’s new ATP certification and its plans for a specialty certification for seating and mobility. How will this help to professionalize the complex rehab industry?

On page 4, we write about the 36-month cap on Medicare oxygen reimbursement, which kicks in Jan. 1, 2009, and a story about the increasingly tense debate surrounding fraud and abuse in the HME industry.

There are even some shake-ups in the industry’s trade show circuit. On page 14, we write about the debut of a new show, the HME Exposition & Conference, and on page 48, we write about the new face of Medtrade.

Before we know it, of course, competitive bidding will rear its ugly head again. On page 26, we write about provider Larry Rice, who matter-of-factly reminds us: “This is a temporary reprieve.”

In a nutshell, there’s plenty for us to write about and, in many cases, plenty for you to worry about. Change is constant, and the HME industry is no exception.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The amount of change in the HME industry-and the subsequent news it generates-is a sign that the industry is on the move. You know you’ve arrived when you’re duking it out with CMS about competitive bidding in the op-ed pages of newspapers like USA Today.

Unfortunately, with increased visibility comes increased scrutiny, something the HME industry has learned all to well this past year. Eventually, however, the industry, like a misunderstood, up-and-coming actor, will find the role it deserves. Its audience, more than 78 million baby boomers, demands it.

That’s one change I’m sure you’ll welcome.