From the Editor: Questions

Sunday, July 31, 2005

As usual this month, I've got more questions than answers.
- The first one's the elephant in the room at AAHomecare. How do you keep all of your members happy when some of them are horrified by the imminence of competitive bidding and want you to wage a scorched earth campaign to prevent it, and others (i.e. large national suppliers) are likely to profit handsomely from a boon in market share? Part of the answer lies in the formation of an ad doc committee to push for an 'any qualified provider' provision in the regulation. Such a provision would make small suppliers happier, and big suppliers less happy.
- Why don't more suppliers bring more beneficiaries to Washington for lobbying visits? (For that matter, why don't more suppliers go? If you are a decent business person, there should be money in the budget for that.) I visited Senator John Kerry's Office in June with a group from NEMED and Laurel Elizabeth Labdon, Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts. Kerry's director of domestic policy was way more interested in what Labdon said than what any of the NEMED members said. The NEMED crew was articulate, but they were talking about the preservation of profit margins. Labdon was talking about the preservation of life.
- Why didn't someone at the podium of the AAHomecare legislative conference rally members on a single unified message or two before we all marched off to the Hill to make calls this year?
- How does the provision of home oxygen save the Medicare program money? The industry keeps saying it does, but can't prove it. We can talk about preventing hospital and emergency room visits, but I'm not persuaded. Sounds good, but it's a non-starter now. Got to get some evidence that's more persuasive on this front.
- In 2004, 10,389 distinct HME suppliers (Apria and Lincare can each claim hundreds in that number) provided oxygen concentrators to 10,440,645 different Medicare beneficiaries. That beneficiary number is likely to grow bigger in 2007 and 2008. What's going to happen to that other number?