Providers en Mass-achusetts
I am back at HME News world headquarters, but, although yesterday's slog through the marbled halls of Congress is but a memory, I wanted to take a minute to introduce a few of the providers who allowed me to tag along with them yesterday. If you're from New England, you'll understand there's a friendly rivalry between Mainers and, Mass...uh, folks from Massachusetts.
Phillipe Bouvier, of Bouvier's Pharmacy in Marlborough. This community pharmacy has been in business for 100 years, despite competition from national chains and mail order. As Sen. Scott Brown commented, upon meeting Mr. Bouvier, "There's not many of you guys left."
Eric Cohen, president of National Sleep Therapy. Although Eric is based in Scarborough, Maine, he felt the best use of his time was to call on the many lawmakers who rep Massachusetts. You may have heard of a little petition on change.org. His company started it. In just under 2 weeks, it has about 7,500 signatures. The day's meetings also gave him a chance to indulge in what appears to be a favorite past time: taking pix with his iPhone. This father of four (?) said he averages about 1,200 pix during weekend basketball games.
Gary Sheehan, CEO of Cape Medical Supply. Actually, everybody probably knows Gary already, but if you don't, he's a second generation HME provider whose company celebrates 35 years in business this summer. He has a three-year-old son and 60 employees and told lawmakers this week that: "It was a sad day when I registered for Round 2."
There was also the provider, whose name escapes me at the moment ( I think I know it, actually, but can't confirm it). I have to mention him because he serves parts of western Mass. which got nailed with some bad weather last summer/fall. During one week-long power outage, his company, with a little help from his competitors, served patients, dodged downed trees, visited warming stations with equipment, tried to help overwhelmed ERs to get patients back home. It cost his company about $4,000 in unreimbursable overtime. I am pretty sure he'd do it again, tomorrow.
Massachusetts, like many states, covers lots of ground, with lots of lawmakers, and the Mass. providers did a great job of divide and conquer. But, perhaps more telling, is that NEMED, which reps all six New England states, has such great cooperation across state lines (shout outs to the providers from Maine and New Hampshire who checked in as we criss-crossed Capitol Hill). We are hearing there are a few areas where providers are looking to block competitors from neighboring states, from being able to bid in their areas. I guess I understand they fear their livelihoods, and rightfully so, but I can't help but wonder if their energies could be put to better use. What the folks at NEMED, and likely the other multi-state associations recognize, is that the industry is going to rise together or fall together.