Monday, November 17, 2008

How do I find home care for my loved one?

When a loved one requires medical care, many questions and concerns arise. Can the medical care be received in the home or is a nursing facility or some other institutional care required? Who can provide these services? Where do I find information?

Virtually every type of healthcare short of surgery can be performed in the home. Today millions of Americans benefit from oxygen therapy, wheelchairs, skilled nursing, sleep therapy, infusion therapy, diabetes supplies, hospice, and other medical services, supplies, and equipment at home.

The American Association for Homecare has created a webpage with resources and information to help you navigate these questions. Please visit for more information or see

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sen. Baucus Touts Services Provided in the Home and Community

U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) released his healthcare reform plan today, saying the need for reform is so great we have to act now. In his introduction to the plan, Baucus stated the need for healthcare policies that “shift the focus from institutional care to services provided in the home and community” in order to improve quality of care and reduce costs.

However, he also proposed in his plan that competitive bidding is an anti-fraud program and is a sound payment methodology for home medical equipment and services in Medicare. The American Association for Homecare disagrees with this statement.

The Association is on record as noting that the competitive bidding program for home medical equipment, which was reformed and delayed by MIPPA, is a price-setting mechanism – not an anti-fraud measure. The Association believes that the federal government should not arbitrarily limit the number of homecare providers who furnish care to seniors and people with disabilities. The number of providers should be determined by the marketplace.

In response to the healthcare plan, Tyler Wilson, president and CEO of AAHomecare, said, “The underlying rationale for competitive bidding completely misrepresents the nature of home medical equipment and related services that are integral to homecare. Competitive bidding would reduce quality of care and access to homecare for millions of seniors and people with disabilities.”

To learn more about AAHomecare’s response to the Senator’s plan, visit the AAHomecare newsroom at

Where Does the Home Medical Equipment Sector Go from Here?

Where does the industry go from here? That topic was discussed by a roundtable panel of leaders from the home medical equipment (HME) community during a general session that started off the first day of Medtrade.

Tyler Wilson, president of AAHomecare, led a discussion about trends driving change. Participants included Invacare VP Cara Bachenheimer, BLACKBURN’S VP Georgie Blackburn, Alan Landauer, chair of Landauer Metropolitan, Pride Mobility Chairman and CEO Scott Meuser, and John Miclot, president and CEO of Philips Respironics.

Alan Landauer observed that the HME sector needs to be realistic and be more active than other healthcare sectors competing for attention in Washington. Many lawmakers still consider cuts to homecare as “low hanging fruit” that can easily be picked off. Going forward, he said, “We need to provide solutions.” His advice to companies facing both tighter credit and lower reimbursement rates: “Make friends with your bank.”

Scott Meuser said survivors in the HME sector will be those companies that innovate and are economically efficient. The HME sector also needs to adopt a marketing perspective to combating the problems in Washington. The fraud issue, he said, is “ruining our brand.” While there has been encouraging progress, Meuser noted “We have to market the value proposition” of homecare. To get that message across, “AAHomecare is the Chief Marketing Officer. We need more providers joining AAHomecare.” Also, he said after the many long battles in Washington, the homecare community needs to “create an era of mutual trust” with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Georgie Blackburn noted that working with lawmakers on Capitol Hill has been eye-opening and encouraging. Meeting recently with a congressional office, “I found an applaud for our industry. The congressional staff said, ‘How can I help you, Georgie?’” She pointed to the success the HME community has achieved this year as evidence for optimism. “When we speak together, we can make changes.” Her advice to companies: “Payor mix keeps you healthy.” But she noted that Medicare rates serve as a benchmark, and therefore HME must be paid fairly by all payors.

John Miclot commented that the future of homecare will be characterized by patients with a wider range of diseases, and the number of those patients will be “substantially larger.” He said new technologies will be available to help care for people in their homes. “It will be a very exciting time for the industry.” But in the meantime, he noted, “we need some stability over three to five years – that would be very healthy for the industry.”

Cara Bachenheimer said HME will have an evolving role in healthcare involving therapies of greater complexity for and increased variety of illnesses. The HME sector needs to continue to work to “unify and pull together” in order to accomplish some of the key tasks ahead, such as getting the services required in HME recognized and paid for in Medicare. Bachenheimer noted that legislators on Capitol Hill recognize the expertise in the HME sector and appreciate ideas and suggestions from HME. For instance, the AAHomecare 13-point plan to stop Medicare fraud represents “the meat of the matter,” she said.

November is National Homecare Month

During November, which is National Homecare Month, the American Association for Homecare celebrates the thousands of dedicated professionals who provide cost-effective and consumer-preferred homecare.

Among the eight million Americans who depend on homecare for medically required services or equipment are people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, spinal cord injuries, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and other conditions. Homecare services include oxygen therapy, wheelchairs, skilled nursing, sleep therapy, infusion therapy, diabetes supplies, hospice, and other medical services, supplies, and equipment at home.

The home is the most cost-effective setting for medical care. To learn more about homecare and the benefits of the services offered, visit the AAHomecare newsroom to read the full Homecare Month press release (