WATERLOO, Iowa (May 10, 2016)—As part of an aggressive grassroots effort to advocate for the HME industry, VGM’s Government Relations team has been coordinating members to testify during the Small Business Administration’s regional regulatory fairness hearings.

To date, more than 40 providers have joined the fight and voiced their concerns about issues facing the HME industry, including access in rural areas, competitive bidding, audits and other regulatory obstacles. By sharing their concerns, HME providers hope to convince the SBA staff of their dire issues and to take these concerns to the people who have the power to make changes: CMS and HHS.

“We feel confident that grassroots efforts like these are pivotal in having the national ombudsman share our stories and concerns with HHS and CMS,” said John Gallagher, VGM’s vice president of Government Relations. “Following each hearing, we’ve had additional conversations with the Office of the National Ombudsman. The stories that our members have shared in person have a significant impact with the agencies that have the power and influence to help HME providers.”

The SBA has met in three of the ten regions and hosted hearings in West Virginia, Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota. Along with encouraging members to attend the hearings and speak on behalf of their business and patients, the Government Relations team has also invited the media to cover each regional meeting. The media has covered many of the meetings and shared our concerns through print and television.

The regulatory fairness hearings are open to all small-business owners, and the meetings provide a unique opportunity for the HME industry to share day-to-day struggles with the current regulatory environment.

For those who would like to speak during the hearing, the process is fairly painless. “We work directly with our members to schedule their testimony with the SBA,” said Gallagher. “We also provide talking points to help guide our members while they’re speaking, and we attend the hearing to help answer any questions.” 

The fight will carry on as HME providers are invited to attend the next regulatory fairness hearing on Monday, May 16 at the University of South Maine from 1-4 p.m. EDT. Providers who are able to attend should RSVP to Emily Harken via email or call 866-512-8465. 

“The SBA’s National Ombudsman, Earl L. Gay, will be hosting the event for small-business owners in the New England region,” said Gallagher. “We are encouraging HME providers to attend the meeting and comment on unfair enforcement actions, government audits and regulations, and the effects they impose on your business and the patients you serve.”

VGM’s Government Relations team has also coordinated an opportunity for VGM members to speak with the SBA’s Deputy Ombudsman, Yolanda Swift, during Heartland Conference on Tuesday, June 14. Members in attendance are encouraged to attend a panel discussion with Swift from 1-2:15 p.m. or stop by the Government Relations booth #96 to share their stories on how CMS policies are affecting their business. 

Visit vgmgroup.com for more information.