ATLANTA – The term “stakeholder” is commonly used. But what does it mean? My definition of “stakeholder” is a person who cares deeply about the DME industry and who works tirelessly to improve it. While it is common to think of AAHomecare, VGM, MED Group, and similar organizations as “stakeholders,” this term includes so many others.
History has shown that some of the most important stakeholders are independent, relatively small, DME suppliers that are committed to their communities…and more importantly, are committed to their patients. Capitol Hill and CMS want to hear from these independent suppliers.
And so why am I talking about stakeholders in the context of Medtrade? Here is why: Finally, after many years of struggling to get our message across to Capitol Hill and CMS, our message is finally being heard. For example, CMS is acknowledging serious flaws in the competitive bidding program and is proposing major changes to it.
Is CMS taking these steps “out of the goodness of its heart?” Of course not. Independent suppliers and other stakeholders have worked around the clock to gather data regarding the failures of the competitive bidding program and have presented the data to CMS. CMS has listened. Finally, we are seeing some victories.
What does this have to do with Medtrade? The answer is simple: “Knowledge is power.” Medtrade is the only event in which DME suppliers (large and small), manufacturers and other vendors, consultants, CMS officials, and others come together “under one roof.” It is only at Medtrade that stakeholders (and, yes, we are all stakeholders) can meet, learn from each other, and plan our collective “go forward” steps.
It is only at Medtrade that we can (i) receive the AAHomecare Washington Update; (ii) hear from the DME MACs; (iii) participate in a round table education lunch; (iv) participate in the popular Audit Happy Hour; (v) participate in Stand Up For Homecare; (vi) and attend excellent education classes, most of which have multiple panelists and are interactive. And this year, Medtrade has included a separate education track entitled “The New Competitive Bidding.” This track will contain five separate programs that will discuss (i) the upcoming 18 to 24 month “hiatus” from competitive bidding and (ii) the anticipated Final Rule that will be published shortly after Medtrade.
Said another way, Medtrade is the only venue in which all of us can gain the knowledge that we need to continue to push for victories with CMS and Capitol Hill. See you there!
Jeffrey S. Baird, JD, is chairman of the Health Care Group at Brown & Fortunato, PC, a law firm based in Amarillo, Tex. He represents pharmacies, infusion companies, HME companies, and other health care providers throughout the United States. Baird is Board Certified in Health Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and can be reached at (806) 345-6320 or firstname.lastname@example.org.