Thursday, August 18, 2016

Nominate an HME Leader for the 2016 Homecare Champion Award

Do you know a champion for the HME profession? The Association is now accepting nominations for an AAHomecare member who has made an exceptional contribution to the homecare sector throughout their career. Attributes that will be recognized include:
  • A longstanding record of service within the homecare community;
  • Embodiment of the spirit of caring and generosity which are the hallmarks of this profession; 
  • Active membership and engagement in the American Association for Homecare.
While this title may relate in part to involvement in government affairs, the Homecare Champion award is not predominately focused on federal or state government advocacy. Our goal is to honor people who have been involved in various aspects of the business of HME and the care that is an essential component of it.

The recipient will be honored during the Stand Up for Homecare reception during Medtrade on Tuesday, November 1, 2016 and recognized in a special notice in the trade press and local media.

Nominations can be submitted to Sue Mairena, suem@aahomecare.org through September 9.

Find the nomination form and see past honorees here.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Providers' Stories Foreshadow Growing Challenges for Rural Patients and Communities

Let Us Know How Your Company is Adapting to the New Pricing Environment

Thanks to the many providers in rural and non-bid areas who have reached out to share their stories about the difficult business decisions they’ve faced in light of the latest round of bidding derived cuts.

Here’s some excerpts from what providers are telling us about their challenges and plans going forward:


  • California – So here we are after 27 years in the DME business and with this second set of cuts I will have to close my doors within a 45-60-day timeframe. It will not be pretty. I've had as many as 30 employees and now I have three; two of them are part time… When all this comes down I will also lose my home. Talk about having my world turned upside down.

  • Texas – 2016 marks my 20th year serving the needs of HME and supply customers. Due to the competitive bidding debacle, I’ll pack up 20-years’ worth of memories into a box and see what is next. The 20 people that hold full time jobs with me will have to be terminated. They won’t be alone, as all private HME companies serving rural areas will go out of business and lay off their employees. There will be thousands of them across Texas… Like I’ve said a thousand times, we could set up a hospital in the home for a fraction of what it costs to be hospitalized. We can provide years’ worth of oxygen therapy for what it costs for a couple days of being in the hospital. Not anymore. After July 1st, rural patients will have to beg someone for these products.

  • Kentucky – No one thinks about the cost of our equipment along with the cost to deliver and educate the patient and family that is depending on us to help a mom or dad or a loved one. We also deal with insurance guidelines, deal with insurances two to three times on a claim, and have overhead that never stops… No business can keep its doors open when you are losing money to take care of someone.

  • New York – There is a much bigger picture that seems to be overlooked by government. It’s about preserving services and equipment to individuals and the elderly with severe disabilities and the livelihood of local and county businesses and residents… We are giving up any hope. The light at the end of the tunnel is about to go out.


  • Alaska – The only reason we are still in business is because we are family owned and operated.  Many times we do not get a paycheck. We started this business twenty years ago because of the need for DME.  We now have over 200 clients we serve. If I close the doors, they have no place to go except the hospital, which is at capacity most of the time, and the cost to Medicare will increase by 2000%. The other option is to move South. 


Our champions on Capitol Hill and other members of Congress and staffers have asked us to collect and share as many real world examples of how the new pricing environment is affecting providers and patients in rural and non-bid areas.  We hope you’ll consider adding your story to the mix.

Please help us make the strongest case possible as we prepare to advocate for relief for rural and non-bid area providers in September.  Contact Tilly Gambill at tillyg@aahomecare.org to share your story, or with any questions.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Encourage Referral Sources to Take Survey on Effects of Bidding Program

AAHomecare has deployed a survey for medical professionals and related support staff (including hospital discharge planners, care managers and social workers) asking for information on their experiences in getting medically-necessary HME products for their patients in a timely manner. The brief survey gives medical professionals the opportunity to share their perspectives on issues they may have faced on account of reduced availability of HME in a changing competitive environment. AAHomecare asks suppliers to share the survey with their referral sources as soon as they can.

The Association plans to use the data to support legislative efforts to demonstrate the effects of recent deep cuts for Medicare reimbursement stemming from the rates created by the latest round of the competitive bidding program, both for companies located in competitive bidding areas, as well as those in rural and non-bid areas that are subject to pricing derived from that program.

A printable version of the survey is available at aahomecare.org/CareSurvey; suppliers may also share an online version of the survey with case managers.

For more information on the survey, contact Ashley Plauché, manager of government relations at AAHomecare, at ashleyp@aahomecare.org.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Let Us Know How You're Doing in This Challenging Environment for HME

By Michael Nicol, senior director of membership services
(excerpt from Wednesday in Washington, July 27)

Faced with the very real and serious consequences of this latest round of reimbursement cuts, and the frustration of having multiple unanimously approved bills come up centimeters short of the goal line as the clock ran out, you are understandably numb. No one could blame you for wanting nothing more than to retreat, lick your wounds, and consider waving the white flag and making a graceful exit.  

Don't do it. You may be closer than you think.

Our War of Attrition
Skeptical as you may be right now, you can still outlast those who seek to wear this industry down with untenable reimbursement policies, onerous and redundant auditing requirements, and "one size fits all" approaches to your highly specialized and value-added industry by being methodical, resolute, and doggedly determined.

Since I began my tenure at AAHomecare, I've gained a genuine appreciation and respect for our member companies. You have been chasing a fairer, more stable, and more equitable business climate - some of you for decades - and you've somehow managed to hold off the forces that threaten the very existence of your business, even as the other side held all the cards. While we might not want to go so far as to characterize these forces as our "enemies"--there is most certainly a life-or-death, sink-or-swim battle going on here for many of you, and one of the weapons we can collectively use to win it is education.

That's exactly why I and my colleagues have begun reaching out directly to you to solicit your personal stories of how the most recent set of reimbursement cuts for rural providers is going to (or already has) negatively impacted your business and your ability to serve patients. This takes many forms. Patients losing access, independence, vital services, and compliance- and outcomes-enhancing product education...employees losing their jobs and communities their neighborhood businesses...the list goes on. And ironically, all of this may ultimately cost the health care system itself so much more money than what will purportedly be "saved" through these sweeping, short-sighted reimbursement cuts and related policies.

We Need to Hear from You! 
You are the people best equipped to specifically articulate the real-world impact of these cuts on our industry and the people it serves. And we are your association. I ask you to take some time to verbalize and share your stories with us, so that we may make the most compelling case possible with our Congressional champions as we mobilize once more in the coming weeks to package and pass a legislative solution in September.

If your company is experiencing difficult business decisions, not accepting new patients, or making other changes based on the January 1 and July 1 cuts, please let us know. Send these narratives to my colleague Tilly Gambill at tillyg@aahomecare.org, or feel free to reach out to me, my contact info is below.

Michael Nicol is the Senior Director of Membership Services for AAHomecare. He is available to help members become better connected with the Association through Councils, member programs and benefits, and answer general questions. Michael also accepts recommendations on potential new members. He can be reached at 202-372-0749 or michaeln@aahomecare.org

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Take the DME Cost Analysis Survey--Build Data to Show CB Rates Are Unsustainable!

All suppliers encouraged to participate in this Cost Study which will include multiple categories under threat by competitive bidding.

Today a national survey opened for suppliers to provide their fixed and variable costs for furnishing the services associated with supplying durable medical equipment. This Cost Study survey comes just one week after the highly disappointing news that Congress did not successfully pass the Patient Access to Durable Medical Equipment Act. Now it is paramount that we provide a strong case for delay in September--our next opportunity for Congress to act. Strong data proving that the reimbursement rates derived from Medicare's bidding program are too low to cover the actual costs associated with providing equipment will help us on Capitol Hill and at CMS.

AAHomecare has commissioned Dobson & DaVanzo to conduct the study which will focus on selected products from oxygen, sleep, manual wheelchairs, hospital beds, and walkers. The more suppliers who complete the survey, the stronger this Cost Study data will be. Ultimately, this will be a tool to be shared with members of Congress, but it will also be available for companies to compare their costs of doing business to the average costs of the industry.

AAHomecare understands that the demands on your time as a business owner are great, but the effort you put into completing this survey is vital to our legislative pursuit in September. You will need 3-4 hours to complete the HME Industry Cost Analysis Study.

While limited Cost Study analyses have been performed in the past, this will be the first to consider DME in multiple categories that are under threat by competitive bidding pricing.

AAHomecare urges all suppliers to take part in this survey and help build the critical data needed to show that CB rates are truly unsustainable. “This is our opportunity to provide hard numbers industry wide to Congress and CMS to explain the depth of cuts we are receiving compared to the actual cost of doing business,” says Laura Williard, senior director of payer relations for AAHomecare. “This Cost Study will be one more arrow in the quiver to build support on Capitol Hill. A critical mass of participation will make the difference for this strong lobbying tool.”

Visit aahomecare.org/truecost to learn more.