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The days of the Golden Commode are over

The days of the Golden Commode are over

Check out this email I received a few weeks ago from a provider I've known for a while and respect:

I continue to be uncomfortable with the headline of your (blog), Golden Commode. This was a derogatory term used during the 70s and early 80s by Medicare and others to point out perceived abuses and inappropriate advantages that providers took of the billing system then in place.  It is not a term that I used and I have always seen it as offensive.  It may be accurate of an unflattering past, but the important part of the statement is "past". Today, with the over regulation, increased documentation, payment reductions, under appreciation, expanded professionalism and service levels provided by those in our health care sector, we would be better served to put this term to rest.

A week later, I received a similar email from another good industry source:

The title of your blog... offends most providers in the HME sector.  In addition to the obvious problem is the fact that for many of the policymakers in Washington, it simply reinforces a myth that if it ever were true is certainly not true today. This is exactly the misperception that kills us--that we're overpaid for a simple piece of hardware, which you could throw off the back of a moving truck. For outsiders, it delivers a dangerous idea. For providers, it's a painful joke at their expense.

I must say, that in the two or so years that I've been blogging under "Notes from the Golden Commode," other than the two emails above, I can only remember one person who complained about the title of my blog. I hope most providers took it in the spirit that I intended: That it is fun to be a little irreverent and to poke gentle fun at yourself from time to time. For those who did not, I apologize.

As the emails above point out, in naming my blog "Notes From the Golden Commode" I neglected to consider that a bunch of people at CMS and inside the Beltway still have a very low opinion of the HME industry.  I wonder: Do you think they grit their teeth and become even more determined to bury the industry every time the see "Notes From the Golden Commode?" That would be crazy, but you can't put it past them.

I understand why some HME providers, trying to distance themselves from the industry's "unflattering past" may not like the title "Notes From the Golden Commode," but I don't get these hostile policymakers. The era of the Golden Commode is long dead. Years of reimbursement cuts and increasing standards have professionalized the industry. Policymakers  played a major role in this transformation. So why do they continue to see the industry in a negative light? What do they want?

If I manage to discover the answer to this, I'll report back.

Meanwhile, say goodbye to "Notes From the Golden Commode" and hello to "Executive Session."

-- Mike Moran


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