Join an association? It's too expensive!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Love 'em or hate 'em, HME associations draw both praise and criticism from providers.
The October HME NewsPoll revealed that 72% of 303 respondents do not belong to AAHomecare. Faring better, 64.7% of providers indicated they belonged to their state HME associations.
The No. 1 reason providers don't join: high fees.
"I find AAHomecare is quite expensive and while I appreciate their lobbying efforts on behalf of our industry, my small company cannot afford their charges," wrote a provider, one of 37.6% who felt dues should be lower.
Some poll respondents--9%--felt AAHomecare was out of touch with the needs of the industry.
"AAHomecare has had an elitist attitude for years," said one provider.
Others said industry associations should pay attention to smaller HMEs. Nearly 14% of respondents felt smaller organizations like state HME associations offered smaller companies more bang for their hard-earned buck.
"National associations are very expensive for a smaller company to join and the board is made up from larger HME companies," said A.R. Kennedy, president of Homedeq, in Houston, Texas. "We joined a state association that is specific to our needs."
When it comes to politics, some providers feel they are more likely to be heard in their home districts.
"The more localized the lobbying, the more attention you get from a congressman," said one provider. "AAHomecare is not on the level of the AMA and never will be."
But state associations drew criticism, too, for everything from high dues to poor Web sites.
"I feel the state association costs appear overpriced for what my return would be," said Martin Falk, a partner at Helping Hands Hospice Supply in Allentown, Pa. "To join, fees would have to be reduced or more services offered."
But with the industry in near-constant upheaval these days, it is more important than ever to support industry groups, say many providers.
"Shame on you if you are not a member of both your state organization and AAHomecare," said Mark Witchey, president of Columbus, Ohio-based Columbus Prescription. "Help pay your fair share of the expenses necessary to get our industry message heard."