Friday, May 31, 2002

Lobby congress, it's key

With Tom Connaughton
Q. AAHomecare has been particularly strident in urging its members to contact Congress as soon as possible. Why is that so important ?

A. The House of Representatives is working right now to draft Medicare Legislation. The Senate will be considering such legislation in the summer and fall. By the time Congress adjourns in early October, it will have decided whether or not to authorize a national competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment (DME), whether or not to repeal the scheduled 15% for home health, and whether or not to make significant changes in the average wholesale price (AWP) system that governs reimbursement for respiratory and infusion medications. In the two years I have been at AAHomecare, this is clearly the most critical period for all sectors of our industry in regard to federal legislation.

We in Washington are lobbying very hard on all these issues. However, constituents have a much bigger impact on members of Congress than lobbyists. Our chances for success this year increase dramatically if we are able to mobilize all our resources throughout the country to weigh in on these critical issues. In addition to acting themselves, our members should reach out to consumers and physicians and encourage them to point out the impact of potential Congressional actions from their point of view. Congress needs to know how vital home care is to our healthcare system, in terms of providing high quality and cost-effective care in the patient preferred setting.

Tom Connaughton is CEO of AAHomecare. Reach him at (703) 836-6730.