Dave Kazynski provides VGM ‘link’ to PAOC

Monday, February 28, 2005

Dave Kazynski

Dave Kazynski’s career has gone from repairing wheelchairs to hospital CFO to president of VGM’s national managed care network. Now he’s applying what he’s learned to the Program Advisory and Oversight Committee, which he’s been a member of since it started as a competitive bidding think tank in September 2004.

“I have a different perspective than others on the committee, and I think I can share that with the group,” said the president of VGM’s Homelink division, a title he has held since it began in 1993. “I have a strong grasp of what it takes for providers to take care of business and know all too well the consequences to patients at the other end of the pipeline when those providers are prevented from doing their jobs properly.”

Kazynski got the PAOC nod because of his extensive experience with providers and payers. But while the 24-member committee has bandied many topics around, Kazynski admits he’s not sure what it has all meant to this point.

“It has been made clear that the committee’s purpose is to share ideas and offer feedback to the people developing the competitive bidding program,” he said. “To be sure, there are a lot of top quality people around that table with a lot of different perspectives. It’s a huge knowledge base. And while we’ve talked about a lot of things, I really don’t know how to measure our progress. To many on the committee that’s a source of frustration.”

A native of Ossian, Iowa, Kazynski has more than 20 years’ experience in the HME/healthcare field. After earning his BA in psychology from the University of Northern Iowa in 1979 and an MBA in finance in 1981, he went to work for Miller Medical Service, starting as an equipment technician and moving up to director of marketing.

In 1984, he became CFO of a community-based hospital in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and throughout the rest of the 1980s and early ‘90s, worked in various hospital administration jobs in Iowa and Missouri. He never lost touch with his first boss Van G. Miller, however, and in 1993 was hired as the first president of VGM’s Homelink managed care network.

Kazynski recalls how it developed: “Van told me he had this idea…a one-stop shop that case managers could call. This would simplify things for insurance companies and give our members an opportunity to compete with the nationals for managed care contracts. It would also help manufacturers get their products in front of managed care organizations. He said, ‘Here’s the idea, you administrate it.’”

Homelink consisted of one staff member – Kazynski – when it started and has since grown to employ 233 people.

“I knew Dave was the right guy for the job because he had HME experience with my company and knew the hospital contracting side,” Miller said. “I told him what I wanted and let him go. The best thing to do is get out of Dave’s way, ‘Can’t’ isn’t in his vocabulary.”

That determination served Kazynski well when Homelink hit a rough patch in 2000. Miller concedes that folding Homelink was a definite option when unprofitable pricing caused a company-wide shortfall. But because Miller’s motto is to never “pick a short-term fix over a long-term solution,” he kept Homelink going even though it meant terminating relations with two of the division’s biggest managed care clients.

“The key to our success has been to stay on course,” Kazynski said. “We have a mission and we’ve stuck to it. We provide quality customer service for the insurance companies we work with and understand that the dealers we work with are as much a part of our customer base as the case managers. We’ve never lost sight of that.”

As a member of the PAOC, one of Kazynski’s key debate points has been with the Veterans Administration, which is held up as a competitive bidding success story.

“They don’t do things the same and it’s not fair to compare it to the Medicare program,” he said. “They’re not looking at the big picture. All Washington seems to look at are what they call “scoreable’ savings, a term they use for immediate dividends. That seems to be all that matters to them.”

Despite getting bogged down on competitive bidding, Kazynski is encouraged by the PAOC’s role in helping devise mandatory standards for HME providers as a way to curb fraud and abuse.

“That is a very positive role for this committee and I’m enthusiastic about it,” he said. “With or without competitive bidding, there must be standards for the industry if we are to get ahead of the fraud and abuse problem.”