Industry rallies at Medtrade: 'We have a lot to offer'

Sunday, November 2, 2008

ATLANTA - The HME industry may have numerous cuts and fraud charges to deal with, but challenges create opportunities, said five industry panelists during a jam-packed keynote address at Medtrade last week.

The panelists, led by AAHomecare CEO Tyler Wilson, discussed a wide range of topics, but they kept returning to this message: With health care in the spotlight, the industry has a chance to prove, once and for all, its value to CMS, Congress and beneficiaries.

"We have a lot to offer," said panelist Cara Bachenheimer of Invacare.
Other panelists were John Miclot of Philips Respironics; Alan Landauer of Landauer Metropolitan; Georgie Blackburn of Blackburn's; and Scott Meuser of Pride Mobility Products. More than 1,500 attendees filled Sydney Marcus Auditorium to hear them speak.

The panelists also touched on:

National competitive bidding
Members of Congress have realized that competitive bidding may not be the answer to saving money and reducing fraud, and it's up to the industry to offer them a budget-neutral alternative.
"They're looking to us," Landauer said.

Five-year outlook
It's not business as usual, and manufacturers and providers need to expand their product and payer mixes and think about new patients to care for, like those with cardiovascular diseases, panelists said.
"We need to broaden the way we think about the number and types of providers we serve," Miclot said. "We can't just think about oxygen all the time."

Public relations
Manufacturers and providers don't necessarily need a fat bank account to lobby members of Congress, panelists said. Joining state associations and AAHomecare goes a long way.
"Not everyone can have a government relations team, but they can support industry organizations," Meuser said.

Final word
When Wilson asked the panelists what the industry should be promoting, Blackburn said: "We educate referral sources every day, and we need to just take it to another source. We need to tell (CMS and Congress): 'We want to be your ally.'"