'We need to win'
WASHINGTON – Robert Steedley, president of Barnes Healthcare Services in Valdosta, Ga., becomes chairman of AAHomecare at a time of change for both the HME industry and the association. Here’s what he had to say about his appointment and AAHomecare’s role in shaping the future of the industry.
HME News: What’s your background in the HME industry?
Robert Steedley: I started out in 1988 in pre-hospital care as an EMT in Tennessee. I got a degree in nursing and became an RN in 1992, then began working in emergency and critical care in Columbia, Tenn. In 1996, I moved to Valdosta and began working for Barnes Healthcare Services, where I reported directly to Charles Barnes, a third generation owner and pharmacist.
HME: Why did you decide to get involved with leadership at AAHomecare?
Steedley: The association was an opportunity for me to be exposed to some of the former leaders, and I began paying more attention to the importance of their work. Working with them helped me realize that we’re all here to take care of companies, and I still feel very strongly about that. I am as passionate today as I was then. I think the industry is part of the solution, and the association can provide the advocacy and regulation relief the industry needs to continue doing what it does.
HME: You’re coming in as chairman at a time of change for both the industry and AAHomecare. How do you plan to shepherd both through these changes?
Steedley: Short-term, we really have four things we’re focusing on. There’s the advocacy piece, and trying to replace competitive bidding with the market-pricing program (MPP). Secondly, we want to improve communication with CMS, since that relationship is critical. We want to improve value and return on investment for our current members. And lastly, a major focal point is membership growth.
HME: How do you see AAHomecare changing shape as a result of these changes?
Steedley: I am aggressively working to bring in other organizations and associations that share our values and goals. We’re very proud of the NAIMES merger, and we’re actively working with another organization that I hope will be announced soon. We’re constantly looking for the right team members to join us, and I see that coming into fruition.
HME: Do you like the industry’s chances of replacing competitive bidding with MPP?
Steedley: As an industry, we need to win. We’ve had some wins along the way, but clearly we need a big win. Part of this involves understanding the political climate in Washington, D.C., and looking for other larger bills for our bills to get attached to. But we fully expect victory here, and we’re working all hands on deck to bring a delay and get MPP signed into law.
HME: Why is it important for providers to be part of AAHomecare?
Steedley: The association is impotent if it doesn’t have members. When staff is on Capitol Hill, we have to speak for our membership, and our membership has to be reflective of the industry. We need members of all sizes. It’s not the size that matters, but the voice and passion. We need members to get legislation passed, to get meetings with CMS, to get regulatory relief. Otherwise, the program laid on top of us will continue to grow without any relief in sight.