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Consumer group: 'We can't align ourselves completely with the industry'

Consumer group: 'We can't align ourselves completely with the industry'

Here's a good example of the potential damage a consumer group can do (in this case, the AARP) when its views and the industry's views don't match up.

So, when I saw the news that the National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA) plans to poll wheelchair users on their ability to access appropriate technology and service, I thought: That's great; they're finally concerned that the average 27% reimbursement cut to power wheelchairs in 2006 and the 9.5% reimbursement cut in 2009 have affected access.

I spoke with Eric Larson, the NSCIA's executive director, this week. He is concerned about access, but he has no plans to jump into bed with the rehab manufacturers or providers. Here's what he had to say:

HME: So the poll is an effort by the NSCIA to add its voice to those of providers and manufacturers?
Larson: Exactly. It also addresses the need for more valid, objective data to enhance the argument.
HME: The rehab industry has long talked about strengthening its relationships with consumer groups.
Larson: We can't align ourselves completely with the industry. In fact, we need to do the opposite—take a more independent stance and speak with a more independent voice.
HME: So how should the rehab industry and consumer groups work together?
Larson: The idea isn't for us to become one, but for us to understand our strategic interests. We both need the same group of people to be healthy to fulfill our missions. We don't need to agree with each other on everything—from time to time, I expect consumers will say things that those in the rehab industry aren't going to be thrilled to hear—but 99% of the time, there's enough alignment.

See the October issue of HME News for more.

Liz Beaulieu


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