Wednesday, April 30, 2003

In the wake of one voice: One voice!
With John Gallagher

Q: With some saying that National Competitive Bidding should be incorporated into any new Medicare reform legislation, and Tom Connaughton leaving AAHomecare, is the HME industry message getting lost, or diluted on Capitol Hill?

A: Absolutely not! Just because there is uncertainty with the changing of the guard at AAHomecare, that doesn’t mean the defenses have been compromised, or that others should take advantage of the void and try to promote their self-interests over those of the industry. Tom Connaughton should be commended for his work in forging a loud and effective voice on Capitol Hill. He did a masterful job of bringing HME leaders (manufacturers and providers) together to focus on this issue. When you have marketplace competitors working together and exchanging ideas, you know you have effective leadership. Tom’s shoes will be hard to fill, but they will be filled.

We know that the battle ahead is in the U.S. House of Representatives. We know that Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) are still committed to NCB. We know that action is likely to occur in June/July during “Mark Up” of Medicare Reform legislation pending in the Ways and Means, as well as the Energy and Commerce committees. During this period of uncertainty and transition, we must continue as a group to focus on the end game — the total and unconditional defeat of any future legislation containing NCB. We as an industry must ensure that one voice is heard on Capitol Hill.

— John Gallagher is The VGM Group’s. v.p of gov’t affairs at 319-235-7100.