O2 provider takes to the open road

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Monty Lankford worried he was sticking his neck out when he spoke up at Medtrade West last March about the importance of HMEs banding together. What he found was a group of "sheep without a shepherd," so to speak. Lankford, president/CEO of Franklin, Tenn.-based TLC Medical, says his first love is politics. He planned to hit the road after the November elections on his own personal campaign to rally the troops. Lankford spoke with HME News recently about his goal to visit every provider in Tennessee--for starters.
HME News: How are you getting your message to providers? Monty Lankford: I've identified about 400 HMEs in Tennessee. I will take my list and start road mapping it out. I want to hit six or eight providers a day. I'll take my truck, drive myself and pay for my own expenses. I've been doing it quite a bit already, and it's been very costly on my business. The energies I've put into politics this year, I probably could have made another $500,000.
HME: What kind of strategy are you envisioning?
Lankford: First, I want to set up about 10 or 12 key leaders in Tennessee. Then, I want to start rolling that same thing out in other states and start planning quarterly meetings somewhere and have a think tank. We need to start writing out a game plan: Here's what we want to do; here are the priorities; here are the goals. Let's execute the plan to get it done. What I really want to push for is a national conference in D.C. You start rallying Capitol Hill for four or five days, with 20,000 people, it's something to be reckoned with.
HME: What is the best way for providers to effect change?
Lankford: I am trying to get HMEs involved in the political system because I believe that's where we're going to win the battle, in D.C. Providers need to put their money where their mouth is. We want politicians to do something, but people don't contribute to their campaigns. We're stingy with our money, but we want so much, too. The bills that have happened to us can be turned around if we put the right pressure on Washington.
HME: Do the state and national associations provide similar opportunities for providers?
Lankford: Providers don't feel like the associations are helping them, that the boards are made up of publicly traded companies, putting AAHomecare between a rock and a hard place. The mom and pops are afraid of competitive bidding and think it won't hurt the big giants. Although they are very large, they are the minority. I want to encourage AAHomecare to focus on the small guys and I want to get more involved with them. If you don't join associations and buying groups and whatever's out there, your heart's not involved.