Providers and other attendees at Medtrade shared their thoughts on the HME industry's coming challenges.

On preparing for the 9.5 percent cut

"We cut all expenses that we could as far as telephone, that
kind of thing. And right now I'm looking at the possibility of
alternating an extra day off for two of my employees so they work
four days a week instead of five."
— David Hicks, Medical Supplies of Central Ga., Cochran,

"We are cutting to the bone. With the cuts that are coming in
January we are going to be impacted tremendously; we are going to
lose about 500 oxygen patients in January, which is a lot. But we
have to be ready for that. We have streamlined our business model
and we have taken our time to implement IT and a new software
system … to make sure we are on the right page. It's going to
be a challenge for everybody, but I think there are still some
opportunities for people on down the road so it's going to be an
exciting time."
— Mike Marnhout, Bluegrass
, Lexington, Ky.

On fraud and abuse

"I don't think there's an option now but to make the effort to
do things right and change the image of the industry."
— Wayne H. van Halem, WVH Consulting,

On a scale of 1-10, how worried are you?

"10. I'm worried about the future, when the government will
control who can sell what products and to whom."
— Dr. Gene Livingston, MedAssure, Phoenix, Ariz.

"10. [Competitive bidding] is going to affect who gets business,
how much businesses will make and what kind of business we
— Debbie Duncan, Medi Home Care, Walhalla, S.C.

On what concerns you the most

"I think the thing providers today are most concerned about is
being able to build a good stream of revenues to make up for the
loss that is going to be facing us … It's not only looking at
revenue but it is an entire mindset change. We have typically been
able to go and provide for the patient and take our time and meet
their needs, but because it is really becoming about the bottom
line, that's a really scary place to be. Are we going to be
compromising patient care for the sake of [the finances] we have to
have to run our companies?"
— BJ Bowser, Davis HomePlus, Elkins, W. Va.

On moving forward

"I think the prospects are encouraging in the sense that we're
in the diabetic space, and it's growing unbelievably fast in this
country. If we can do a good job, we can get our fair share of that
market, so we're not running away from the business … we're
expanding. But we know there's a cut coming, so one of the primary
things we're doing here at Medtrade is meeting with our vendors and
getting some better prices."
— Tim Binkley, Valentines
Diabetic Supply
, Roswell, Ga.

"The first thing that everyone needs to consider is that the
patients we serve today are still going to need our services no
matter what changes we face. If we lose sight of our patients, if
we lose sight of the people we serve, then we're in a downward
spiral that leads to negativity. There are tremendous opportunities
out there … We just need to change the way we do business.
Will HME look the same in five years? No. Will we still be here?
Yes. Those of us who survived the Six-Point Plan thought we
wouldn't be here after that; we just have to learn to change with
the times."
— Velma Goertzen, RN, A Step Ahead
, Inman, Kan.

"The resilient people will stay. The creative people who
redesign their business — they'll still be there."
— Tammy Johnson, AbleCare, Lexington, Ky.