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New-Format AAHomecare Update Kicks off Medtrade Spring

AAHomecare senior leadership discussed top policy challenges for the HME community and how the industry can address them in a new session format moderated by David Kopf, editor and publisher of HME Business. Kopf led the discussion with questions for the AAHomecare staff and solicited questions from the well-attended event.

Tom Ryan, AAHomecare president & CEO, spoke at length on how AAHomecare is evolving to help HME providers take advantage of an expanding patient pupulation, citing projections that see the number of individuals over age 65 growing by 25% over the next decade.  Ryan also discussed the need to accelerate the growth of the Association and his goal of increasing AAHomecare’s budget by $1 million through new member recruitment over the next year.

“Our mission is getting much larger in scope, and we need more resources for AAHomecare if we are going to succeed,” said Ryan. “A budget of $3.5 million is not enough for the primary advocacy organization representing a $50-60 billion industry. A larger budget will help us fight the headwinds facing this industry, including unsustainable reimbursements.”

Ryan cited AAHomecare’s membership Ambassador program as a cause for optimism.  The just-launched program is designed to leverage the connections and influence of industry leaders to help bring aboard some of the Association’s most significant membership prospects.

Jay Witter, senior vice president of policy followed with updates on AAHomecare’s top legislative priorities, including long-term relief for rural providers, oxygen reimbursement policy fixes, and keeping non-invasive ventilators out of the bidding program.  Witter noted that several Medicare “extenders” from previous legislation were set to expire in May, so there is a possibility for an omnibus healthcare legislative vehicle around that time, and AAHomecare is working with our champions on Capitol Hill to position our priorities for consideration in any such bills.

Witter also spoke about how the continued grassroots advocacy work of the HME community has improved the credibility of the HME industry on Capitol Hill.  Witter noted that when he joined AAHomecare eleven years ago, he was constantly asked about “fraud” in HME in meetings with Congressional staffers; now the subject never comes up.  He also cited the growth of the number of legislators who can be counted as champions for HME, with multiple Representatives and Senators from both parties stepping up to support HME policy priorities.

Kim Brummett, vice president of regulatory affairs, spoke at length about a significant regulatory development for HME: the new Standard Written Order (SWO).  While the new process should help reduce provider burdens, Brummett stated that DME MACs need to provide additional clarity on implementation to the provider community, describing the new SWO as “not as simple as CMS thinks it is.”  She also expressed hope the CMS would provide an FAQ document and an updated “required list” to help providers navigate the change.

Brummett also discussed the significant opportunities for the HME community to reduce administrative costs through wider adoption of e-prescribing. Brummett acknowledged that referral sources hold the keys to increased use of e-prescribing and encouraged providers to educate and encourage clinicians to modernize their processes.

Laura Williard, vice president of payer relations, discussed the increasing scope of AAHomecare’s payer relations program and the important role that the new Payer Relations Council is playing in developing a proactive, forward-looking approach to dealing with issues related to Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and Managed Care Organizations (MCOs).

Williard cited making sure that State officials and other payers understood the value of HME, increasing oversight of largely unregulated MCOs, and capturing data from Medicare Advantage plans as upcoming areas of focus for the payer relations ream.  She also shared details on the new State Legislative and Regulatory Toolkit resources, including comprehensive proposed and passed legislative language designed to help state association leaders in working with policymakers.

The strong turnout for the session, high level of audience participation, and post-session comments from attendees signal that the new format for AAHomecare’s traditional policy update was a welcome change of plan.‚Äč