CLEVELAND – I’m proud, honored, and excited to start my role as chairman of AAHomecare. I am especially gratified to work alongside so many accomplished leaders on the Association’s Board and Councils as we ensure our industry meets the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
Advocating for sustainable and market-realistic reimbursements across a broad spectrum of payers will remain a priority, as will ensuring that CMS’ next bidding round–timetable unknown–retains hard-won safeguards and improvements in rate-setting methodology championed by AAHomecare. Another near-term focus is pushing for greater oversight and transparency for Medicare Advantage plans to ensure their members have the same access to HME as in Medicare Part B.
Since March, AAHomecare has been undertaking a comprehensive strategic planning process to help the Association identify other medium-term (next two-to-three years) priorities and make sure our attention and assets are directed towards succeeding in those areas. This process will allow us to be more proactive in identifying potential threats to our industry, as well as capitalizing on opportunities to strengthen and grow HME’s value in the healthcare continuum to benefit all stakeholders.
Next week, the AAHomecare Board will be meeting in person to synthesize insights drawn from nearly 250 industry stakeholders, as well as from AAHomecare staff and the Strategic Planning Committee. I’m looking forward to discussion and debate with very passionate HME leaders and developing a plan of action that helps this industry thrive with the support of our thoughtful, effective, and forward-looking national association.
The north star (or core ideology) for HME is providing exceptional care at home. For all the challenges we face on a range of fronts, on issues as varied as reimbursement policy, workforce shortages, and rising operational costs, we’re very fortunate to have such a clear and critically important north star to follow.
I also believe that there’s so much opportunity and room for growth in the HME sector. HME is well-positioned to prove its value in an evolving, progressive, and performance-based healthcare environment. Advances in digital technology and monitoring can help us support more patients at home. Growing adoption of e-qualification tools will further streamline ordering processes, standardize coverage criteria interpretation, and reduce denials and audit risks.
Finally, HME sits squarely at the crossroads of a growing senior cohort and the limited availability (and staggering costs) of assisted living and nursing care. The share of older Americans is growing more rapidly than younger segments; the number of people 65 and over is set to grow from 55.7 million (in 2020) to 80.8 million in 2040, per the most recent Census. The growth in the 85+ segment is even steeper, more than doubling from 6.7 million in 2020 to 14.4 million by 2040. It’s clear to all of us that a thriving HME sector will be indispensable in keeping a major share of that growing senior population out of costly and isolating institutional care facilities.
I’m excited by the prospects for the HME community and AAHomecare to be even better equipped to realize the growing opportunities for our industry after we complete our strategic planning effort. This Association has delivered great value for its members and tangible, bottom-line wins that benefit providers and patients alike. And I know the ambition, integrity, expertise, and commitment to care that I’ve seen in so many great people in this industry can — and will — allow us to seize our opportunity to deliver an even brighter future for HME.
Josh Marx is CEO of Medical Service Company and chairman of the AAHomecare Board of Directors. This editorial originally appeared in AAHomecare Insider.