From the Atlantic Coast to the furthest reach of the Rocky Mountains, VGM’s August of Action campaign led to more than 30 congressional meetings across the country. These meetings have been hosted in DME offices, where members of Congress have been able to tour buildings, see how the equipment is used, and hear the issues suppliers and patients are facing because of harmful policies.
Others took place in congressional offices, where legislators and staff listened to stories directly from the mouths of DME suppliers, patients and hospital staff. These meetings have united competing companies with a single message that rings loud and clear: DME suppliers are exhausted from flawed Medicare programs and if something isn’t fixed soon, Medicare beneficiaries will suffer.
[caption id="attachment_4082" align="alignleft" width="190"] KJ Spillman-right-giving a tour to Rep. Crawford[/caption]
KJ Spillman of Affordable Medical in Paragould, Ark., hosted a meeting with Congressman Rick Crawford. Eagerly waiting in the office were more than 50 people excited to greet Rep. Crawford. Attendees ranged from local DME suppliers, patients, hospital executives, state representatives and the local media. The congressman told KJ this was one of the most organized and informational meetings he had ever attended. KJ reports, “I was so impressed with the number of professionals who came and how all their comments came together to form our message.”
KJ also spoke of an emotional moment at the event when a physical therapist and one of her patients told a heartwarming story of how DME has affected their lives. The therapist asked the patient to stand up. Then said, "Without the use of DME, he would not be able to do this today." The crowd applauded. The event made the front page of the news the next day.
[caption id="attachment_4087" align="alignleft" width="150"] Don Jones, left, and other members of ADMEA meeting with Sen. Shelby, second from the left[/caption]
Don Jones of Southern Medical Equipment and ADMEA have also been champion facilitators of meetings. He told VGM he wanted meetings with every Alabama congressional member. Nine meetings later, every member of Alabama’s delegation had met with DME suppliers in August. Every one of these meetings gained support of our industry and vows to reach out to Congressman Tom Price (R-Ga.) to support the fixes to the competitive bidding program.
[caption id="attachment_4088" align="alignright" width="300"] Congressman Gohmert, Michael Isbell and Chad Parks of Cross Medical[/caption]
In Texas, suppliers have met with Congressman Gohmert, Congressman Poe and Congressman Culberson’s office. Poe’s office quickly followed up with VGM’s People for Quality Care to request more info on beneficiary access issues in Texas.
In July, VGM set out to start a much needed dialogue between providers and members of Congress. As August ended, we can confidently say that we achieved that goal. While this past month proved to be very successful, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure lasting reforms are made to provide for the success and survival of the DME industry. VGM will be on the front lines fighting to make that happen, using the momentum from the August of Action to push much needed reform. We would love to hear about your August congressional adventures! Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with your stories and photos!