FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (March 20, 2019)—Legislators and staffers in both the U.S. Congress and state legislatures have a wide range of knowledge and perceptions about the home medical equipment (HME) industry. However, there is one question that often comes up in meetings with these individuals on a given policy issue: “How does this impact patients?”
Credibly answering that question often goes a long way in getting a lawmaker or legislative assistant to give a fair hearing on the issues at hand.
The MED Group, through its parent company Managed Health Care Associated (MHA), is taking this approach even further by working to increase patient involvement in oxygen policy advocacy. The company has worked with HME suppliers in Texas to identify patients who would be willing to meet with Congressional staff.
Josh Britten, operations manager for West Texas-based BritKare Home Medical, recently partnered with MHA to help set up a meeting with staff in Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) district office that included one of his patients. Britten describes the experience:
“[This initiative] is an out-of-the-box approach to having our patients’ voices heard by Congress and showing Congress the effects Competitive Bidding has had on rural providers in Texas. I approached their team with an audit complaint and within the hour of the meeting they orchestrated for me with the West Texas Deputy Regional Director for Senator Cornyn, a case had been opened on my behalf and sent directly to the Senator’s office. I am appreciative and excited to have an effective team in my corner that can make a difference.”
“It is so important that Congress understands the patient impact,” added Katie Streaker, Director of Legislative Affairs for MHA. “The people that they have been elected to represent are living through the negative consequences of legislation and regulation. Much of Congress and their staff are uneducated on the Medicare oxygen patient perspective and it’s our responsibility to pull together as an industry and ensure that education is provided, at home and on Capitol Hill. MHA is committed to this initiative and assisting providers in the organization and execution of these visits.”
Getting HME patients to take part in advocacy efforts requires a good deal more effort than simply reaching out to legislators yourself, but their involvement can make a very strong impression on policymakers and staff.
Although The MED Group started with Texas as the focus of their efforts, providers are encouraged to participate as these visits will be expanding nationwide. Suppliers serving Medicare oxygen beneficiaries can get involved by emailing MHAadvocate@mhainc.com or going to mhaadvocate.com and filling out the info in DME Oxygen Patient Visits, also found on the Action Center drop-down list.