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'You've got to build muscle if you are going into a fight,' says George Kucka

'You've got to build muscle if you are going into a fight,' says George Kucka Wise words from winner of AAHomecare/Mal Mixon Legislative Advocate Award

SCHERERVILLE, Ind. - Provider George Kucka launched his first HME company in 1985. By 1990 or so, it was obvious that if he wanted to depend on the entitlement program as a source of revenue he would have to stay on top of things. So he got active in his state association, and started attending Medtrade and congressional fly-ins.

Kucka, president of Fairmeadows Home Health Center in Schererville, Ind., received this year's AAHomecare/Mal Mixon Legislative Advocate Award during the association's recent Washington Legislative Conference. HME News spoke with Kucka about why he continues to press for change and what's wrong with Washington, D.C., these days.

HME News: What made you start getting involved in advocating for the HME industry?

George Kucka: I've probably put more time into lobbying and advocating than I should have but if I hadn't been doing that, I probably wouldn't be in business. I wouldn't have been ahead of the curve and wouldn't be able to anticipate a lot of the things I have been able to anticipate. That's why I advocate for people to get involved in associations.

HME: Are you surprised that some providers don't see the value in associations? Is it because money is tight?

Kucka: It does amaze me that people don't realize the importance of networking and getting involved not only with their association, but also networking with other providers and other disciplines to find out what's going on. As to the financial aspect, people in bad times feel that they have to cut fat, so they cut back on things like association membership. My response to that is: That's not fat; that's muscle. You've got to build muscle if you are going into a fight.

HME: How do you stay motivated year after year?

Kucka: It's a matter of survival. I liken it to me as a guy clinging to a life preserver. To me, this advocacy is that life preserver. I hear it: People are tired. I had new people with me on the Hill and I told them, nothing happens overnight. It's a matter of building relationships. Keep telling your story until somebody listens. The state of the industry right now is such that, people might start to blink if we don't make dramatic changes.

HME: How is the political climate different than when you first started going to Capitol Hill?

Kucka: I used to love to go to Washington, D.C.—there was this huge sense of history and sense of power. Now that power has become too all encompassing. There are 535 people running a country of 330 million people. There are senators and representatives that have been around way too long and they've created an elite group. When they are exempted from things that they are passing that we have to subscribe to, like healthcare coverage, there's something wrong.


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