As many of you know, I was privileged to have been elected chairman of the board of directors for the American Association for Homecare at the Association's
by Joel Mills

As many of you know, I was privileged to have been elected
chairman of the board of directors for the American Association for
Homecare at the Association's Washington Legislative Conference
last month. In June, more than 200 representatives of the home care
profession came together in the nation's capital to share with
members of Congress their personal stories about the value of home
care and about the contribution that our profession makes, not only
to the lives of the patients we serve but to the health care
continuum within our communities and to the local and national
economy as well.

At the conference, we addressed the “big-ticket”
issues: opposition to national competitive bidding and to a
Medicare home health co-pay, and support for a rural home health
benefit add-on and for a market basket update for home health
agencies. As we lobbied these issues, not once did we lose sight of
those people who will be affected most by Congress' actions —
our patients.

I believe very strongly that we must make every effort to
“humanize” these issues by putting a patient face on
home care. We simply cannot discuss the compassionate, high-quality
and cost-effective health care we provide to people in their homes
without emphasizing the day-to-day, one-on-one interactions that
change people's lives.

Through the innovative equipment and caring services that home
care provides, we are truly creating daily miracles in individual
households, entire communities and ultimately, the whole nation. We
need to work with patients, consumer groups, medical societies and
our coalition partners in sharing these stories and expanding on
our message about the value of home care.

Our profession is being called upon to provide home care
services to a growing, increasingly diverse population and to
operate within a health care system that seeks to minimize acute
care costs — and we are rising to that challenge. As we are
asked to do more, however, we should be able to count on a stable
— or preferably, a supportive — economic and regulatory
environment in which we can meet the needs of our nation's health
care system.

Making Every Interaction Count

Having worked in home care for all of my professional career, I
know that this is a tenacious and resourceful industry, one in
which change and challenge are part of our daily lives. I know that
I am not alone when I say that, to meet my patients' and employees'
needs, I have had to maximize every opportunity.

As a result, “Making Every Interaction Count” will
be an important theme during my tenure as AAHomecare chairman. This
theme can be applied to everything we do, from serving patients, to
benchmarking with colleagues, to speaking with elected
representatives or local media about the importance of home

As a former chairman of the Home Care Market Group of the Health
Industry Distributors Association, one of the three organizations
that merged to form AAHomecare in 2000, I am pleased to become
chairman of AAHomecare at a time when the Association is strong and
has a focused, unified message to deliver about the value of home

Finally, I look forward to working with new AAHomecare President
Kay Cox, who I will count on to provide expert advice on
communicating to Congress, CMS and the Administration that home
care is more than just a Medicare benefit. We see it as an
opportunity to create daily miracles in the lives of our

Joel C. Mills is the 2003-04 chairman of the American
Association for Homecare in Alexandria, Va. Mills also is chief
executive officer of Advanced Home Care in Greensboro, N.C. You can
reach him at (336) 878-8950 or by e-mail at: For more information about
AAHomecare, call (703) 836-6263 or visit