Unsung heroes and the NSC

Saturday, June 30, 2007

If you did not attend AAHomecare's Legislative Conference in Washington last month, you missed out. During 10 years at HME News, I've attended a lot of industry events, and from top to bottom I can't remember a better one. All the speakers delivered. Something else struck me: Once again, the same minority of stakeholders turned up to fight for the industry's interests, namely rolling back the 36-month cap on oxygen reimbursement and trying to make national competitive bidding less onerous, especially for small providers, who make up about 90% of all HMEs.
The 225 attendees (more than last year but a pittance when you consider that roughly 15,000 providers receive HME News each month) couldn't miss Invacare CEO Mal Mixon; he seemed to be everywhere. Before sending providers off to meet with elected representatives, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., one of the most powerful men on Capitol Hill, thanked Pride Mobility for its work on behalf of the industry. The senator understands the cost effective, patient preferred nature of homecare and proved it big time. In an unexpected move, he offered to set up a meeting between the industry and Kerry Weems, President Bush's nominee to replace Mike Leavitt as CMS Administrator. Specter understands Washington politics; in trying to win the nomination, Weems is more likely to offer to work with the industry now than after he's confirmed.
The MED Group and The VGM Group, the industry's largest provider service organizations, attended the AAHomecare event in force. Other attendees and sponsers included Karyn Estrella, Mario LaCute, Tim Pedersen, Drive Medical, Douglas Coleman, Randall Carson, Jackie Bolt, Doug Harrison, Michael McDonald, Jill Martin and Connie Lind-Fraher. Many who attended are unsung heros, providers working hard for the industry but who don't grab headlines. If you couldn't find the time to attend the Legislative Conference, you should thank those who did because they're the reason your time hasn't already run out.
What's up with the National Supplier Clearinghouse? The NSC issues supplier numbers, and, in theory, ensures that they go only to legitimate providers. So how come there's still so much fraud, especially in south Florida? It makes you wonder if there isn't some funny business going on. CMS has no problem aggressively auditing providers. It should do the same thing with the NSC.