With the election season in full swing, home-care providers need to be talking to candidates about the importance of home medical equipment and the threats to continued access to home care. Fortunately, home care is one of those rare bipartisan issues. Prominent Republicans and Democrats agree that our industry deserves better Medicare policy. For instance, both Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann and Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank signed onto H.R. 1041, the bill to repeal the Medicare bidding program. Getting one of the most conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats to join on the same bill means that you have a truly bipartisan cause.
Remember, calling on your government (whether elected legislators or agency officials) to get your grievances addressed is not only a right guaranteed by the First Amendment, it has become a part of the job description for every HME provider and manufacturer in the U.S. Here are a few steps you can take to be successful in your contacts with both incumbents and challengers running for office in your state or congressional district.
Request a meeting with your lawmakers or their challengers to brief them about our key issues. Call the scheduler to arrange the meeting. When Congress is not in session try to schedule a meeting when the member is back in the home district. A meeting with a legislative assistant from the members’ office who handles health-care issues (the health LA) can be very productive if the member is not available for the meeting. For information on how to contact congressional offices or to send an e-mail directly to your elected officials, go to action.aahomecare.org.
At the meeting, briefly and succinctly describe the key issue. Focus on only one or two key issues, tops. Your time may be limited to 10 or 15 minutes, or less. Include points about how the issue affects constituents in the state or district, including your patients and employees.
Be sure to always prepare a solution for every problem you present. For instance, enacting legislation to replace the current bidding program with the Market Pricing Program is an excellent solution to that problem. Acknowledge that it’s important to control spending in our health-care system and explain how quality home-based care helps to keep care cost-effective and prevents more expensive institutional care.