Mike Barner: 'We need a stronger voice'

Friday, September 25, 2015

A lot has changed since Mike Barner got his start in the HME industry as a driver in 1985. Barner, an administrative manager at the University of Michigan Wheelchair Seating Service, took over the role of NRRTS president in July. He recently spoke to HME News about the importance of collaboration.  

HME News: What do you hope to achieve as president?

Mike Barner: I hope to bring the ability to create collaboration with all of the entities out there, such as NCART, RESNA, AAHomecare, and U.S. Rehab. We’re such a small industry and yet we’ve got all these segmented areas. We would be much more effective if we were a little more collaborative. We need a stronger voice.

HME: It seems like you’re on a roll already, what with the combined conference scheduled next July. 

Barner: I think that’s a big first step with NRRTS and NCART joining RESNA for the conference next year. That’s certainly laid some groundwork and has started some talks between those groups.

HME: Reimbursement can be a bear. Is innovation possible within complex rehab?

Barner: I certainly hope so. I personally want to better understand what’s involved in the cost of producing and bringing a product to market from the manufacturer’s perspective. To understand that better gives me more knowledge when I’m speaking to legislators. 

HME: Is there anything providers can do to help themselves?

Barner: I think there are times when companies might not clearly understand their overhead cost that it takes to provide very high level complex rehab technology. And I sometimes I think that allows for misguided decisions in terms of what kind of reimbursement people are willing to accept. I think providers need to come together with a common knowledge of what it takes to provide this equipment and not be our own worst enemy.