New association AtHome in Tennessee
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A recent decision by some HME providers here to form their own state association is an effort to ensure that HME issues get the attention they deserve, organizers say.
On June 7, members of the HME Advisory Group for the Tennessee Association for Home Care (TAHC), announced that they would not renew their membership with the association. Instead, they have formed the Association of Tennessee Home Oxygen and Medical Equipment Services (AtHomeServices) to focus solely on HME issues. TAHC represents home health, hospice and support agencies in addition to HME providers, which made up about 15% of its membership.
That made it difficult for the association to give attention to HME issues, said Randy Wolfe, president of Knoxville, Tenn-based Lambert's Health Care. He sat on the advisory group.
"Every industry has so much on its plate," said Wolfe, who helped form the new association. "Our industry has had so many regulations and budget cuts the past couple of years, and it looks like it's going to get more difficult in the future."
James Herren, a Lebanon-based consultant who will serve as AtHomeService's executive director, hopes the new group will get providers more involved in both national and local HME issues.
One major issue that needs attention: competitive bidding.
"Suppliers in Tennessee have no experience with competitive bidding, and all of a sudden, they'll have four (CBAs) thrust upon them, in the four largest metropolitan areas," said Herren.
The new association is getting some help from Mike Hamilton, executive director of the Alabama Durable Medial Equipment Association. Hamilton will serve as senior executive adviser and executive director emeritus of AtHomeService.
Hamilton sees cost-sharing opportunities in providing services to both states, and will manage the office and communication work of the new association.
So far, provider response has been positive, Hamilton said.
"We're getting calls and e-mails saying, 'This is great, what can I do to help? And as soon as you have an application form, I want one,'" Hamilton said. "The level of enthusiasm is so high. I'm looking forward to trying to keep it up."
Some details still need to be ironed out, such as office location and membership fees, and a website (www.athomes.org) is under development. Until then, people looking for more information may call Herren at (615) 714-6707 or Hamilton at (205) 824-6204.
TAHC Executive Director Gayla Sasser could not be reached for comment by press time.