TARENTUM, PA – Earlier this month at Medtrade, I felt a much more positive attitude than what we have had over the past decade, especially since the onset of Medicare’s competitive bidding program. With the release of the proposed ESRD rule, providers now see possibility for a sustainable program. Once the final rule is communicated, thought to be sometime in November, we’ll know what’s ahead for our businesses.
We’ve made progress! Two technical changes will take place that directly speak to what our industry has touted for years. No longer will we have 50% of awardees above the single price and 50% below; the last bid accepted to meet capacity will determine pricing. Additionally, only serious bidders will take part because a Surety Bond will need to be purchased for every category bid upon.
All our industry organizations—AAHomecare, VGM, NCART, and more have worked to give us a unified message. Most providers now realize we must have a voice on staff – someone who is full-time with messaging legislators or someone who at least jumps on the bandwagon at critical moments. Building relationships with our elected officials is a necessity if we want improvements. There is power in voice.
I had not been to Medtrade for a while and instead concentrated on legislative meetings and educating our elected representatives. Our Operations people did attend the show. This year, I was honored to be a guest of VGM as one of its four finalists for the 2018 HME Woman of the Year and connected with so many old friends and so many companies that I had not seen for a while. Everywhere I went, the vibe was brighter.
More than a decade after we began our mission to change the bid program that has changed our businesses, we are at that intersection. While the footprint of the show was smaller than I remembered, the collective optimism was palpable!
Georgie Blackburn is vice president of Government Relations and Legislative Affairs, BLACKBURN’S, headquartered in Tarentum, Pa, with additional Pennsylvania locations in Bridgeville, Erie, and Cheektowaga, NY. Blackburn is the winner of VGM’s 2018 HME Woman of the Year award, presented during a ceremony at Medtrade 2018 in Atlanta.