On February 10, 2017, the song, “Happy Days Are Here Again,” could be heard across the nation. Why? Dr. Tom Price, the undisputed supporter of the home medical equipment industry (HME) was nominated and confirmed to President Trump’s Cabinet as Secretary for the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
If I heard it once, I heard it many times, we could not have hand-picked a better person to be in this position. It was as if my brother-n-law or an old college buddy was now able to make a real difference especially for the HME industry. Today, I’m having serious doubts about our champion.
The question on everyone’s mind is: What is taking so long for Dr. Price to act on the very thing in which he leads the way? It reminds me of the movie, “Braveheart.” As the evil king’s army (in this case CMS) charges down on horseback with spears drawn to destroy the good guys (or the HME Industry), the good guys hold off the attack at the last-minute, in spite of weariness. It is much the same for the weary HME industry against the regulatory attacks from CMS.
According to information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act retrieved by industry advocates from data.medicare.gov, shows the estimated number of HME suppliers and locations have dropped nearly 38 percent nationwide. I believe that number to be much higher due to the number of suppliers who choose to sell to larger companies. It is hard to believe that many suppliers are gone. If Dr. Price fails to act, more suppliers are soon to follow.
What is confusing is that Dr. Price has been a strong champion of the HME industry during six terms in Congress. He knows and has known that the evil army is approaching and the good guys are in harm’s way. Dr. Price has spent considerable valuable time and effort trying to make changes to save the good guys.
Many providers are scratching their heads wondering why it’s taking so long for someone who knows what HMEs are going through. Sure, the battle over the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is raging on in Congress and in the rest of the country. Dr. Price is smack dab in the middle of it, but surely our hero could take a moment from the current stalemate of the ACA and save the good guys.
The good guys need to do what we did in Washington in May. The good guys convinced over one-third of Congress to sign on to a letter urging Dr. Price to act on our issues—and act now. One would think that the Cures Act was a clear enough seal of approval for Dr. Price to act on. The Cures Act was signed by President Obama. Even President Obama recognized that the cuts Medicare made in 2016 were too deep.
The good guys need to start squeaking like a giant Ferris wheel. The DME Industry has the Cures Act on its side, two Dear Colleague letters, 38 percent fewer providers and recently, The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has recognized how Medicare has negativity affected small businesses.
What more does Dr. Price need? A flaming bush in the wilderness? Good guys, let us rise up and start making some serious noise before it’s too late!