Cross wins award for hard work

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

SANDUSKY, Ohio – Melissa Cross, this year’s recipient of the Van Miller Homecare Champion Award, says she’s as involved as she is in the HME industry out of necessity.

“We’re an employee-owned company,” said Cross, vice president of the homecare division of Sandusky, Ohio-based O.E. Meyer, which has about 150 employees. “We need to understand all the rules and adhere to them every day. This is our company; we have to do it right the first time.”

Cross has worked at O.E. Meyer for about 22 years. For 18 of those, she’s been actively involved in the Ohio Association for Medical Equipment Services, immersing herself in the ins and outs of Medicare regulations.

When Cross was president of OAMES from 2007-09 and CMS was preparing to launch its competitive bidding program in nine cities, two of them in her state, her involvement in the industry became more than educational.

“That was huge,” she said.

With her company and others facing steep reimbursement cuts, Cross helped to arrange a seminar for OAMES members on activity-based costing to improve their financials. She also helped to make the case to the state that the Medicaid program should not fully adopt bid pricing. She later helped to avert another crisis, when the state decided not to move to a single-source provider for incontinence supplies. 

What made it all possible: hard work, Cross says.

“I guess it was the way I was brought up,” she said. “My parents were hard workers; my four siblings are hard workers. It’s the philosophy that once you get into something, you put all you can into it to get good results.”

At O.E. Meyer, Cross has helped to keep the homecare division solvent, despite reimbursement challenges and administrative burdens. The company relies on the division for only 12% of its business but it dedicates a whopping 12 of its 13 billing employees to the division.

“The industry has become so prescriptive,” she said. “You’re tripping over yourself to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.”

One of the keys to O.E. Meyer’s success has been leveraging not only a diversified overall business—the company also has industrial gas and other divisions—but also a diversified homecare business, Cross says.

“We’re trying to make an investment,” she said. “We’re investing in personnel, where others are laying off. We’re looking at third-party payers; we’re looking at long-term care opportunities.”