Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Make your opinion count
With Tim Zipp
T. Zipp

Q. With changes in the near future, how can I make sure my voice is heard?

A. First of all, you must have a venue to make your statement.

Make sure you have a way to submit comments or get involved. An easy way to do this is to get involved with your national or state association. With changes coming to policies, HCPCS codes and prices, use these groups to stay current with the changes and when there are opportunities for comment.

Secondly, pick up the phone today and introduce yourself to your local representative and his or her staff. Invite them to your place of business and offer to show them the positive impact that federally funded healthcare programs have had on the lives of your patients. Once you are able to educate them about the value being provided to their senior constituents, then they will have a base of knowledge when you ask them to communicate a favorable position to CMS on an upcoming issue. Ultimately, this may affect your ability to deliver continued service to their Medicare/Medicaid constituent.

CMS must also hear from beneficiary and advocate groups.

When providing comments to CMS or its work groups, tie your comments to the affect on the beneficiary. The agency is not necessarily concerned about your business, but they do care about the access to care for beneficiaries. If possible, get the treating physicians you work with and the beneficiaries to contribute their comments to add clinical support and real life scenarios on the proposed changes.

Finally, when making your case, data and facts will have much more weight than individual stories. Supplement your ideas and ascertains with real data and facts. Participate in every survey you can to help collect industry information on these life or death issues aimed at our industry. While we think reports from the GAO or OIG are flawed and are poor representations of the truth, they are seen as sources of data. Without real information to contradict reports such as these, CMS and legislators have no other options but to consider them as fact.

Tim Zipp is executive v.p. for government relations at The Scooter Store. For comment, e-mail him at tzipp@thescooterstore.com.