State association news: AZMESA, WAMES shake it up

Friday, August 26, 2016

PHOENIX & WILD ROSE, Wis. – The Arizona Medical Equipment Suppliers Association is changing its name to Southwest Medical Equipment Suppliers Association to expand its support to HME providers.

“The name change allows us to be more flexible with who we are and what we do,” said Rose Schafhauser, executive director. “It gives folks who don’t have (an association) a place to belong.”

Like providers in New Mexico, for example, who don’t have an association specifically to represent them.

“Associate members would make sales calls to these folks and they’d say, ‘Who can we go to? We have questions and we have no where to go,’” said Schafhauser. “We would do everything within our power to get the information they were looking for.”

While the name change is meant to convey inclusivity, it is not meant to replace existing associations, says Schafhauser.

“We’re just representing Arizona,” she said. “We’re not officially adding any states—we’re just giving folks who don’t feel represented the opportunity to be represented.”

Founded in 2001, AZMESA represents 44 companies and counting, says Schafhauser.

“It’s about keeping our current members very satisfied to the point where they want to spread the word and bring on new folks,” she said.

In addition to expanding AZMESA’s reach, Schafhauser has taken on the role of executive director at the Wisconsin Association of Medical Equipment Services. Under her leadership, the association hopes to ramp up advocacy efforts, says Rick Adamich, a WAMES board member and president of Waukesha, Wis.-based Oxygen One.

“I think that’s where we’ve been strong, especially in recent years,” he said. “But we want to continue to improve on a national level by working in conjunction with AAHomecare and VGM, but also locally here in Wisconsin, and I think Rose is going to help us with that as an executive director.”

One local issue in particular: getting an HME licensure law on the books. Last year, Wisconsin lawmakers passed a bill allowing HME providers to obtain a license to dispense oxygen and bill insurance for it, but stakeholders were unsuccessful in getting a licensure law passed for all HME. 

“We really want to get some sort of brick-and-mortar provision,” said Adamich. “That’s a high priority item for us legislatively at the state level.”