WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 2, 2016)—On the heels of last week's Washington Legislative Conference, the momentum is building for support of rural relief legislation. On Wednesday and Thursday, conference attendees met with more than 225 legislators' offices to discuss the Patient Access to Durable Medical Equipment (PADME) Act of 2016 and other advocacy priority issues.

Not only did the conference give suppliers and manufacturers the time to spend on the Hill, but it also provided key issue education to ensure everyone was prepared for the questions they received when speaking about the pay-for and other attributes of the legislation.

Attendees also heard from Peter Thomas, of the ITEM Coalition, who announced during the conference that the ITEM Coalition supports PADME. Representing more than 70 consumer groups, the ITEM Coalition has a powerful and well-respected voice on The Hill. Thomas' rallying speech opened the conference and was followed by the general session, which included a discussion on the challenges faced by rural providers. The rural panelists explained they have cut all the corners they can. Their challenges include thousands of miles of territory with rising gas prices, dirt roads, unfavorable weather conditions and other oppositions to allowing profit.

During the PAC Reception on Wednesday evening, AAHomecare’s president, Tom Ryan, presented the AAHomecare/Mal Mixon Legislative Advocate Award to Thad Connally, president of First Choice Home Medical in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and the president of the Kentucky Medical Equipment Suppliers Association. Connally’s advocacy efforts are evidenced by the recognition and credibility he has established throughout the Kentucky congressional delegation, from its most junior members all the way to the office of the Senate Majority Leader. The award was given in recognition of Connally's contribution of time, energy and resources in helping protect and defend the business of homecare. As an active AAHomecare member, he has demonstrated it is not necessary to be “inside the Beltway” to be an ardent and effective lobbyist for homecare.

Congressional speakers included Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) who agreed that should cuts take place on July 1 it will hurt patients and providers. The Congresswomen provided tips for speaking with members of Congress and their staff about the pending legislation.

For further analysis of the conference and pictures of the event, please search Twitter for #WLC16 or #aahomecare. Congratulations to the winner of the #WLC16 Photo Sweepstakes, Gary Sheehan (@gmsheehan) of Cape Medical, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, who provided continuous updates of his experience in Washington, D.C. through Twitter.

As first time conference attendee Dana Lesperance of Absolute Respiratory Care in Rhode Island said, "Traveling to D.C. for the AAHomecare conference and congressional meetings on Capitol Hill was a fulfilling experience. The value can’t be overstated. AAHomecare, along with HOMES, the regional organization Absolute Respiratory Care belongs to, took the guesswork out of the logistics of the congressional meetings. This enabled me to focus on networking and preparing for my scheduled meetings. The return on investment does have some instant gratification when you hear one of the Representatives you met with signed on to a bill. I do believe we are laying the groundwork for a more long-term and long-lasting return. I can recommend, without hesitation, taking a couple days to participate in the conference and the legislative process. As a first-timer, I was left asking why haven’t I attended for years? It goes without saying, the time is more important than ever to be active. The cuts on July 1 will have a negative impact on our company and on Medicare beneficiaries."

Thank you to those all who attended the Washington Legislative Conference and represented the HME community on Capitol Hill.

Visit aahomecare.org for more information.