Democrats are better for HME industry

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Democrats better serve the interests of the HME industry. Democrats ideologically support government- sponsored healthcare insurance programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIPS. Republicans, on the other hand, are ideologically opposed to entitlement programs - generally favoring funding cuts on a routine basis, and seeing such programs as a politically necessary evil, at best. While some Democrats support the competitive bidding proposal (NCB) as a way to reduce beneficiary co-pays, Republicans support NCB simply as a way to reduce overall Medicare spending, regardless of its effect on the beneficiary and small business owners.

Republicans have a reputation for being pro business, but in reality they seem more responsive to large corporations such as HMOs and pharmaceutical companies with campaign financing clout than to small business HME providers that do not have deep pockets. Indeed, while the Republican-dominated House of Representatives has passed several bills that would benefit HMOs and pharmaceutical manufacturers, it has allowed proposals that would benefit small business owners, supported by Democrats, to languish without even a hearing. Examples include tax credits for small business owners who provide health insurance to their employees; group health insurance buying programs to make providing these benefits more affordable for small business; and the widening of eligibility for entitlement programs that would make health insurance more accessible to the working poor. With 41 million people currently uninsured in the United States passage of any of this legislation would, without a doubt, benefit the HME industry by substantially increasing the pool of beneficiaries.

Lastly, the Republicans, who preach regulatory relief, have brought almost none to the HME industry over the course of their control of Congress. In reality the paperwork pile is growing, not shrinking, under this Republican administration.

In short, the Republican pro-business rhetoric does not appear to match reality. Moreover, the typical small business owner’s motivations for supporting Republicans don’t seem to translate well to this industry. Accordingly, my vote goes to the Democrats, who have a reliable history of supporting affordable access to health care, which directly impacts the HME industry and small business owner.

Roberta Domos is president of Domos HME Consulting Group, New Albany, Ind. HME
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