Speak with one voice? It's possible

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Q. The industry has helped to introduce several bills that address what it believes are detrimental Medicare policies for home infusion, rehab and respiratory. What ever happened to the old rallying cry: "Speak with one voice?"
A. There are a lot of people who are concerned that we create confusion on the Hill when a variety of groups, all representing home care, lobby for their bills. And I can't blame them. When AAHomecare formed, the goal was for that one organization to represent the entire homecare industry. In theory, it is a great idea. In reality, it's very difficult to accomplish--and I am not being critical here. We have AAHomecare trying to be the industry's voice, NCART representing custom rehab providers, NHIA representing home infusion therapy providers, etc. So the question is--how can we have one voice with all these various groups? Well, we can't--as long as these groups continue to function independently of each other. I believe we can have one voice if the various groups would agree to work together. Let's use AAHomecare, NCART and NHIA as examples. Each organization serves a unique purpose and is committed to its mission and members. All are outstanding organizations. What would happen if the leaders of these organizations began having regular meetings, maybe quarterly, to keep each other abreast of what they are doing legislatively? Perhaps they could put together a coordinated grassroots plan that could be used across the country each August when Congress is on recess. Maybe some issues could be combined into one bill rather than separate bills. Let's face it--these organizations are here to stay, but I don't think they have to isolate themselves from each other. They should embrace the goals of each group and find a way to work collaboratively on issues. If this is accomplished, we will have one united voice.


Karyn Estrella is executive director of the New England Medical Equipment Dealers (NEMED) association. Reach her at 508-993-0700 or karyn@nemed.org.