Industry loses one voice, gains another

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--The HME industry lost an ally in August, when incumbent David Davis, a provider, lost the Republican primary to Phil Roe, the mayor of Johnson City, for the first congressional district. Roe garnered 51% of votes.

Not all is lost, however, because Monty Lankford, also a provider, won in the Republican primary for the fourth district with 60% of votes.

“The government doesn’t understand this industry,” said Lankford, founder and CEO of Franklin-based TLC Medical Oxygen and Hospital Equipment. “We need somebody to protect us and fight for us.”

The political scene in Tennessee is just a microcosm of what’s going on nationwide in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 4 election. Industry stakeholders have been working, perhaps more than ever before, to get HME-friendly candidates-or in the case of Davis and Lankford, two of their own-elected.

If Lankford beats his Democratic opponent next month, he’ll have big shoes to fill as the provider from Tennessee on Capitol Hill. Davis advocated for HME tirelessly, especially when it came to delaying national competitive bidding, sources said.

“I think I made my point clear to CMS that it’s not good for the taxpayer, for the provider or for the patient,” Davis said. “It will result in more costly care.”

Though it doesn’t usually take official stances on candidates, the Accredited Medical Equipment Providers Association (AMEPA) is one of those stakeholders participating in the election frenzy. The association encouraged members to support Davis and it invited Lankford to speak at an Aug. 28 conference “to give him some exposure.”

“Obviously, he’s intimately knowledgeable,” said Sean Schwinghammer, an AMEPA adviser. “The biggest problem we have in Congress is people have no idea what the industry does and they have false assumptions about prices and payments.”