HMEs blanket the Hill

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Monday, September 30, 2002

WASHINGTON - AAHome-care rallied more than 260 HME industry advocates and competitive bidding opponents here Sept. 18 in the largest one-day lobbying effort in the association's history.

The campaign against competitive bidding has mustered so much concern that AAHomecare drew representatives from approximately 90 companies that do not belong to the association, according to James Jorkasky, the group's vice president of membership and strategic development.

At least one AAHomecare contingent met for an hour with the staff of Sen. Bob Graham (R-Fla.), the staunchest advocate of competitive bidding in Congress. "I don't think we converted them," said Tom Connaughton, AAHomecare's CEO.

Connaughton himself met with Sens. Tom Dascle (D – S.D.) and Trent Lott (R – Miss.)

In dozens, perhaps hundreds of visits with senators and congressional reps, HME advoctaes carried a message that equated the advent of competitive bidding with the end of patient access to quality care, the elimination of small businesses and bigger government, among other ills.
The industry gleaned no more insight into the form and shape a competitive bidding initiative would take in the Senate. Congress plans to adjourn Oct. 11, though some are predicting a lame duck session some time before the new Congress takes over in January.

Connaughton's best bet says competitive bidding would not be at issue in a special session. "My gut says they'll deal with this before the election," he said. HME

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