Extra cash to boost advocacy

Thursday, January 31, 2008

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina Medical Equipment Services Association (SCMESA) sent notices to members in January that it has changed its dues structure to raise more money to fight and promote state and industry issues.
Last year, full members paid a flat fee of $300. This year, however, they'll have to pay anywhere from $350 to $650, depending on revenues.
"I'm sure we're going to get some push back, especially from smaller providers," said Bobby Horton, SCMESA's executive director. "But we're trying to change our focus. We've had more of a focus on education, but now we want more of a focus on getting in front of changes."
SCMESA hasn't increased its dues for at least a dozen years, Horton said. With more state and industry issues to fight and promote than ever before, however, the association knew it was time, he said.
One provider who's not complaining about the change to the dues structure: Dave Weisner, owner of Comprehensive Medical in North Charleston, S.C., and SCMESA's vice president.
"We're spending more and more time on legislation," he said. "We have a legislative committee that needs to fly to Washington, D.C., every now and then. We've (resurrected) our political action committee (PAC). Unfortunately, to get things passed or to get things stopped these days, it takes money."
In November, SCMESA's PAC raised more than $25,000 for U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
SCMESA went with revenue-based dues instead of increasing its flat fee because numerous other membership organizations and buying groups, including AAHomecare, operate that way.
"It's fair," Horton said. "Those who make more pay more."
An even mix of state associations uses revenue-based dues and flat fees, Horton said. The Utah Medical Equipment Dealers (UTMED) association uses a sliding scale based on number of employees.
The Ohio Association of Medical Equipment Services (OAMES) was contemplating a change to revenue-based dues for 2008, but it will probably hold back, said Kam Yuricich, executive director. Right now, members pay a flat fee of $600.
"Our financial health is something we look at on an annual basis, but we're hesitant to make any sudden moves in a year where we're heading into national competitive bidding," she said.
To get the most bang for its bucks, OAMES has cut costs significantly by emphasizing Web-based communication, Yuricich said.