Those who know Joan Cross would call her anything but
“If you're quiet, you're not going to get anything,”
says the co-owner of Bradenton, Fla.-based C&C Homecare.
One of four recipients of HomeCare magazine's 2004
HomeCaring Awards, Cross has made her voice loud and clear —
from Florida to Washington — on issues that affect HME
providers. The past president of the Florida Association of Medical
Equipment Services (FAMES) also helped mobilize others to fight for
these causes, including suing Florida's Medicaid agency in 2002 to
block competitive bidding for DME.
“Her valiant efforts brought that to a halt but, more
importantly, solidified FAMES into an effective voice for all the
DME dealers,” said Sheldon Prial, a HomeCare columnist
and one member of the seven- judge panel for the awards.
“Many of the dealers I know have told me how she has been
able to make the time to help them through many of their
Recently, HomeCare talked to Cross about her involvement
HC: You've been in the business for about 20 years now. What
motivates you to remain active?
Cross: I don't have a right to complain if I don't get
involved — and, of course, I like to complain. If I don't do
it, no one else is going to.
HC: What is the greatest challenge HME providers face
Cross: As a provider, it's the red tape and difficulty
getting paid. You provide services, do everything as legally as you
can do it and you still don't get paid. Every time you turn around
there's a new rule, and no one knows about it. It's very
frustrating trying to be a decent company.
HC: You've been involved in lobbying efforts state and
nationwide. What do you consider your most important
Cross: I was very proud of the fact that we were able to
put off competitive bidding in Florida until now. We received
donations to try to help pay for [our lawsuit]. It cost over
$100,000, and the fact that so many people were willing to help us
was substantial; we had a lot of involvement from people who were
not necessarily FAMES members. The effort put forth made everyone
realize we were very serious. I'd like to get more people to
understand that it takes us all.
HC: What is another accomplishment you're proud of?
Cross: Senator [Bob] Graham's administrative assistant
once said she thought most people didn't mind competitive bidding
and even encouraged it. And she told me that anyone who opposed it
was welcome to call the office. So I called everyone I knew, and
asked them to call 10 people they knew. By the end of the day there
were over 5,000 responses. They had to close out her voice box and
put in a new fax machine. She challenged us. That's one of my
HC: Why has it been important to you to reach out to Hispanic
Cross: When you start reading in
“governmentalese” it's difficult enough to read in
English, let alone if English is your second language. [With new
rules and proposed legislation], it was very important that
everyone knew what was happening. I don't speak Spanish myself, so
we gathered a group together and had a translator explain what was
happening and what they needed to do. I'm seeing a lot more
Hispanic providers seeking information, making phone calls and
HC: With all the changes looming ahead, what is your advice
to other providers?
Cross: The people faced with competitive bidding will
have to do the best they can to network and try to get the contract
or get more private contracts. I depend a lot less on Medicare
right now. In Florida, options are severely limited. Many people
here are 90-percent Medicare-based. If those in rural areas don't
think they're going to be affected by this, they have another think
Chosen from nominations sent in by readers, HomeCare
magazine's 2004 HomeCaring Awards were given in recognition of
distinguished service to the HME industry. HomeCare is proud
to acknowledge the talent, dedication and generous spirit of those
who make the HME community a better place, and who demonstrate the
caring that HME is all about. See future issues of HomeCare
for profiles of the other three recipients.