Former Medicare executive switches teams

Friday, October 31, 2008

MIAMI LAKES, Fla.--Ruben King-Shaw recently joined All-Med Services of Florida as its new CEO.

King-Shaw’s 20 years of healthcare experience includes a stint as deputy administrator and COO at CMS. As government and private payers shift toward community and home-based care, he sees an opportunity for the HME industry to become the backbone for delivering those services. King-Shaw spoke with HME News recently about life on this side of the fence.

HME News: Providers often feel like CMS doesn’t listen to them.

Ruben King-Shaw: I think CMS is best at listening to beneficiaries and Congress. In part, there is a bureaucratic bias against providers. We tried in our tenure (at CMS) to see providers as a partner, but that’s hard. There’s a much longer tradition for the government, particularly in health care, to get the best deal and price, and to enforce the rules. It doesn’t make for an open conversation for either party.

HME: How can the industry improve that?

King-Shaw: Providers need to speak with a clear, more consistent voice. The provider community is dominated by small individuals and it’s difficult to band together and create an institutional presence in Washington. We as an industry need to be far more disciplined about what our message is and advocate a solution. You can’t say, “This is all wrong,” but not offer some solutions. Our conversation needs to be about not what’s good for us but how this would be better for beneficiaries.

HME: What are your thoughts on national competitive bidding?

King-Shaw: I would say the program was the right decision. It offers the government more accountability, better pricing, more quality control and reduces the cost to beneficiaries. It’s a travesty the program got postponed. That creates a greater cost to beneficiaries and the government.

HME: Do you think the program was implemented fairly?

King-Shaw: If mistakes were made along the way, it’s because they were rushing. In my view, they should have implemented those contracts. I think the worst possible outcome was to throw those out and make everybody go through this again in 18 months. It was clearly not well thought out.