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A good problem for the industry to have?

A good problem for the industry to have?

A few blogs ago ("Someone wants National Seating & Mobility and United Seating & Mobility to step up to the plate"), I wrote about how ATG Rehab holds its annual meeting at the same time and in the same place as CELA, and how someone at Medtrade Spring asked me why National Seating & Mobility and United Seating & Mobility didn't do the same thing. The idea: If CELA also had the drawing power of NSM and USM, it could significantly increase the industry's presence on Capitol Hill during the event.

Now, I didn't ask Simon Margolis, executive director of NRRTS, directly about this in a recent interview, but he seemed to be alluding to that when he told me:

We're finding that having huge numbers is not necessarily the goal of a conference like ours, because if we had 500 people, that means there'd be 30 people in a delegation going to see a congressman or a senator. That's not going to work; it's unwieldy. It'd mean someone would go representing those people, when those people came to the Hill thinking they could get meetings themselves. So we think turnout isn't as important as getting consumers who represent the districts and the states who have folks on committees with jurisdiction over Medicare and making sure we have knowledgeable, articulate industry professionals who can really tell the story.

That makes sense. Even this year, when I was shadowing some industry professionals and consumers during meetings with lawmakers, some of us stayed behind when it looked like it was going to be too big of a group, say five or more people.

It just seems that in the past, for CELA and AAHomecare's Washington Legislative Conference, the industry has promoted this image of providers and consumers storming Capitol Hill en mass. Maybe that was just a rallying call and now that the industry has some traction with its lobbying events, it's looking for quality over quantity?

I'm skeptical, however, of the industry downplaying participation in these events, especially after years of stakeholders calling them on the carpet for sitting on the sidelines.

Is there a way for the industry to continue its rallying call but still make the most of its lobbying efforts? What if CELA drew as many attendees to its conference as possible and took applications or nominations for the actual providers that get to attend the meetings with lawmakers? Even if a provider didn't attend the meeting personally, wouldn't he be interested in hearing what the provider who did had to say in the debriefing meeting following the meetings? Or what if CELA assigned only one meeting to each provider? Most providers I know of at CELA have at least two or three, if not a whole day's worth, of meetings.

This is a good problem to have, but it's one the industry needs to address.

Liz Beaulieu


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