Home IV director reflects on tenure

Thursday, November 30, 2006

In her 15 years at the National Home Infusion Association--nearly 10 as its executive director--Lorrie Kaplan has embraced what she calls "the big tent" approach. She has brought players from all corners of the industry together to push for greater awareness and better coverage of infusion services. In March 2007, Kaplan will resign from NHIA. HME News spoke with her recently about NHIA's achievements during her tenure, as well as what the future holds for the infusion industry.
HME News: What are your proudest accomplishments at NHIA?
Lorrie Kaplan: I'm really proud of the community we built here. If you just look at the home infusion industry over time, it was extremely fragmented and extremely competitive and cutthroat. And everybody said the different organizations and types of folks involved would never be able to sit down at the same table. Now, it's much more cohesive. That's been really exciting and energizing for people to be in it and be part of that. And we know we need to be part of the larger homecare community as well.
HME: What lies ahead for the home infusion industry?
Kaplan: The DME and respiratory industries are used to Medicare being a primary payer. What's been different about home infusion is that managed care has been the primary payer since the beginning, driven by the needs of private payers to save money. We have members that, historically, 90% of their business has been private pay. We have a lot of opportunities with Medicare right now with changes in the program and the awareness that there isn't good coverage under Medicare for home infusion.
HME: What is driving growth in the home IV industry?
Kaplan: You'll always have this pressure to keep people in the least-cost setting. Also, there are lots more infusible drugs coming down the pipeline over the next 10 years, some of which will be appropriate for patients in the home setting. Another area really taking hold--we have more and more members that are forming ambulatory infusion sites. Historically, those needed to be associated with a hospital or with a physician's office.
HME: How does Medicare play into overall home IV growth?
Kaplan: If there are no major changes to Medicare coverage from what we have now, growth is not going to happen in this industry. This is an underserved population and we're ready and willing to take care of a greater share of Medicare patients. Also, there's a growing awareness for pharmaceutical and biotech to build support for Medicare coverage because if there's any services, supplies or equipment associated with that (new) drug, there's not going to be access for Medicare beneficiaries.