Election predictions: Repeal? Senate turnover? More of the same?

Friday, September 7, 2012

WASHINGTON – How will the upcoming elections impact the HME industry? HME News asked five government relations professionals for their predictions.


Some industry stakeholders believe if Mitt Romney captures the presidency, there could be a repeal of parts or all of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“There are very significant differences between a second term under the current administration vs. Romney, with the ACA being the most significant area that would be in real question,” said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products. “In that sense, a new administration would be a positive for the industry.”

The ACA hits home in a number of ways. Two of the biggest: It expands Round 2 of competitive bidding by 21 cities and creates a new tax on HME and other medical device manufacturers.

Senate switch?

Of course, Romney can’t repeal the ACA by himself. Stakeholders expect the House of Representatives to remain in Republican hands and they say the chances of the Senate turning from Democrat to Republican are, at best, 50/50. Even if the Senate doesn’t turn over, stakeholders expect the majority there to be much tighter. 

“The Republicans have a good chance of picking up four seats,” said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for The VGM Group.

Cloudy crystal

Other stakeholders are less certain that, even if the elections play out this way, there will be a repeal of the ACA or any other changes made that would impact the industry.

“None of it will have any short-term effect on what we’re facing with bidding or audits or any of the rest of it,” said Wayne Stanfield, president and CEO of NAIMES. “If members of the House and Senate are not willing to stand up and act at this point, there’s nothing in the crystal ball that says if there’s a change in the presidency or the Senate, they’ll do something.”

Greater good

Regardless of the outcome of the elections, stakeholders say the industry’s MO remains the same. 

“We need to continue to show how home medical equipment saves money and benefits the beneficiary,” said Walt Gorski, vice president of government affairs for AAHomecare. “I think who’s in control of the White House or Congress matters very little.”

Cost curve

Stakeholders believe that, on a basic level, the industry’s message is one that resonates with either party.

“For both parties, there’s a gravitation to, ‘Home care needs to be used more,’” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. “It’s all about healthcare costs and keeping costs down, and that’s not a partisan issue. We believe we have a strong message of cost-effectiveness.”