Providers sound off on industry image

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

YARMOUTH, Maine - A majority--albeit a small majority--of HME providers say they donated money to industry lobbying efforts over the past year. Nevertheless, few of those who responded to the February HME NewsPoll believe that spending more money on lobbying is the best way to improve the industry's image.
Specifically, 58.7% of 151 respondents reported that they contributed money to an industry lobbying effort during the past year. Only 6%, however, said that putting more money behind such efforts is the best way to improve the industry's image.
Of those who responded, 7.4% said that the best way to improve the industry's image is with more grassroots lobbying; 18.8% suggested coalitions with consumer and clinical groups; 22.8% favored publishing outcomes data on HME's cost effectiveness; and 32.2% said recruiting beneficiaries to lobby on its behalf.
When it comes to spending more money on lobbying, "there is relatively no money being put into lobbying for our cause," wrote Thomas Pawlowski, owner of Thomas Respiratory Health Care in Lebanon, Conn. "Insurance and oil companies spend billions, we don't."
Not only do most providers lack the deep pockets of the "favored industries," but Congress also doesn't understand the industry.
"We have got to get beneficiaries involved continually," wrote Butch Vanderpool, owner of Winter Haven, Fla.-based All Ways Rehab. "We need to use seniors and senior groups, i.e. the AARP, to educate CMS."
The industry's lack of cohesiveness hasn't helped its cause; nor has it done enough on its own behalf, providers said. Fairy Shull, in sales at Mid-South Medical and Mobility in Memphis, wrote: "The HME industry has not effectively presented the benefits of home care and home equipment to the public."
And, added Karen Chrapek, special projects manager of Mobility Products Unlimited in South Daytona, Fla.: "There is not enough data on how HME can help patients and save the government money in the long run." h