Lawmakers gladly listen to reason
If you don't think local grassroots lobbying pays off, you haven't talked to Jim Greatorex.
"All you've got to do is show a legislator a customer in a wheelchair and competitive bidding is not the first thing that comes to his mind," said Greatorex, president of Black Bear Medical in Portland, Maine.
Over the years, Greatorex and other Maine providers have met many times with state lawmakers, both in Washington, D.C., and at home. The results speak for themselves: Rep. Tom Allen, D-Maine, introduced a bill this spring with Ron Lewis, R-Ky., that aims to exempt complex rehab from national competitive bidding. Additionally, Allen and Rep. Michael Michaud, D-Maine, have signed industry bills designed to lessen the impact of competitive bidding and roll back the 36-month oxygen cap.
Gaining that support didn't happen by accident, nor is it rocket science. Persistence--in the form of visiting regularly with lawmakers and their top health aids--pays off, Greatorex said.
"It's no different than how you sell your referral sources or customers," he explained. "It's a relationship business. You develop relationships; show them you are legitimate. Then if you have a reasonable request that makes sense to them, they support you."