Two large providers abandon AAHomecare

Sunday, February 17, 2008

ARLINGTON, Va. - AAHomecare took a "big whack" last month and waved goodbye to 5% ($150,000) of its annual revenue when Lincare and Praxair--two of the association's largest providers--declined to renew their membership for 2008.

"They are big players in the industry and someone ought to ask the question: Why don't they feel they should be involved?" said Tyler Wilson, AAHomecare's CEO. "It's a big whack. We are straining for resources, and there are no shortages of issues."

Officials from Lincare and Praxair did not return calls. But both companies belong to the Council for Quality Respiratory Care (CQRC), which requires "significant" dues, said one industry watcher.

AAHomecare's yearly dues run from $995 for companies with revenues under $1 million up to $93,000 for companies with revenues over $500 million. With $1.6 billion in revenue, Lincare falls into the top category.

Several years ago, Rotech, another national HME provider, dropped out of AAHomecare. While associations serve large and small members, larger companies, with their greater resources, play a pivotal role in funding operations, Wilson said. Lincare and Praxair's decision to pull out of AAHomecare means the association will have to tighten its belt. It won't be able to work on some issues and will be less effective on others.

Lincare and Praxair's decision not to renew their memberships comes at a time when the industry faces significant threats. CMS has begun to release information on the second round of competitive bidding, the first round kicks off this year, and there's more talk about cutting Medicare reimbursement for oxygen and power wheelchairs.

Those "dire" issues have pushed the expected attendance for AAHomecare's Legislative Conference (March 4-6) to about 300, well above last year's 200, Wilson said.

"I want to put it in terms of companies that are failing to look at the common good of the broader industry and just focusing on their immediate needs, not thinking fairly about all these other issues that need to be addressed," Wilson said.