PAMS: Still fighting at 40
HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Association of Medical Suppliers (PAMS) recently celebrated its 40th anniversary.
The association’s mission—to educate members and policymakers and fight for providers—hasn’t changed much over the years, said John Shirvinsky, executive director.
“If there’s a difference at all, it’s in the sense of urgency,” he said. “We’ve reached a time where financial resources are limited at both the state and federal level. And everybody is exploring ways now to make the delivery of health care more affordable.”
PAMS originally formed in 1972 to help Pennsylvania providers exempt home medical equipment from the state’s sales tax. State law already exempted “reasonable and necessary purchases” like food, clothing and health care, said Shirvinsky. While certain medical equipment was exempt in medical facilities, that same equipment in the home was not.
Since that victory, PAMS has relied on active volunteers to further its cause, says Laraine Forry, a consultant who has been active with PAMS since the early ’80s. She has seen the HME business become more complex over the years and she has seen new challenges arise, but PAMS has remained strong.
“Individuals in this industry are passionate about what they do—and they’re as passionate now as they were 20 years ago,” said Forry. “Those individuals make this association what it is: competitors helping competitors face challenges together.”
Shirvinsky says that passionate member base can and has made a real difference, especially in the face of reimbursement cuts and programs like competitive bidding.
“We have to help the state and federal regulators get these decisions right,” said Shirvinsky. “If we don’t stand up and speak out on behalf of our industry, nobody will do it for us.”