Letters to the editor

Monday, July 31, 2006


I was one of the fortunate people in June who gathered in Washington, D.C., under the umbrella of AAHomecare to lobby for the HME industry. AAHomecare prepared all the position papers, made appointments with lawmakers and their aids, and gave guidance on how to speak to legislators.
However, the "we" who went to lobby was a rather small group. Where were all the providers who constantly complain and cry about what is happening to their business? AAHomecare is leading the battle to change legislation onerous to the HME industry and to generate more respect and response from Congress. The problem is that there were an insufficient number of providers who took the trouble to join this major effort on AAHomecare's behalf. We needed groups of 12 to 20 providers from each state to see their senators or congressmen. When the legislators see large groups visiting, they listen. When only one or two people make a call, they politely listen and nothing happens.
It is imperative that you join AAHomecare and participate in all its efforts to protect you. You must be on the team or nothing will happen. When you do that, we will succeed. Alexander Dumas said, "Nothing succeeds like success," and with AAHomecare we can make it happen.
- Shelly Prial, director of government affairs, Graham-Field

I thought you might find this interesting. This is the text of an e-mail conversation that I had with the director of a very large pulmonary rehab facility in the Bay Area. Keep in mind that this is typically a position that advocates on behalf of patients. The conversation was regarding H.R. 5513, the Home Oxygen Patient Protection Act, which, if passed, would repeal Medicare's 36-month cap on oxygen reimbursement. The moral for the industry is: Don't take for granted that referral sources understand what we face as an industry--tell them!
Referral wrote: Many people are interested in this issue. One healthcare lobbyist is opposing it with the rationale that it costs $7,200 over three years for a $500 concentrator. You know much more about the rationale for supporting H.R. 5513 than many. Anything you can share with me?
I wrote: Gladly. Simply use the printer vs. the ink cartridge analogy: You can buy a printer for $39, which is the equivalent of a concentrator. The ink cartridge for that printer will cost you $99 every two weeks to replace. These are the RCPs, portable tanks, deliveries, preventative maintenance visits, billing and intake expenses, after-hour service, cannulas, humidfiers, etc. As an industry, we are paid for none of these. What we provide is a service, not a commodity. I question this individual's credentials as a healthcare lobbyist.
Referral wrote: Excellent rationale. Thanks. Many are fighting this cause.
- Cliff Woolard, President/CEO, Home Med-Equip Co., Concord, Calif.

I read "Respiratory, sleep groups go to battle," HME News April 2006, with great interest. We are a global provider of sleep disorder equipment. Our focus is to make CPAP work, not just sell something. We are the ones that many doctors, sleep labs, providers and support groups refer CPAP users to. Unfortunately, many of the technicians or therapists delivering CPAP equipment do not understand sleep disorders. The equipment is simply 'dropped off,' signed for and the user is left to set up the system for himself. We have serviced over 27,000 users. We do not bill insurance companies, CMS or any second- or third-party payer. We have to do a better job to keep our clientele.
- Joe Guilford, CPAP Man, Kennewick, Wash.