State Association Spotlight: PAMES and Big Sky AMES
on September 16, 2022
VGM Government Relations loves talking about all the great HME State Associations out there. The state associations are amazing advocates and are always working hard to improve the HME industry. VGM Government Relations recently talked with Barb Stockert, Executive Director of both Big Sky Association of Medical Equipment Suppliers (Big Sky AMES) and Pacific Association for Medical Equipment Services (PAMES). Barb stays busy year-round overseeing two separate associations while also spending time with family. Read below to see how she does it and find out more about these two great state associations!
Q: You oversee two separate state associations and oversee multiple states. How do you manage all these states?
A: I do my best to track all the different legislative, regulatory, and payer actions for five different states. The Big Sky Association includes Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, while PAMES covers Washington and Oregon.
Sometimes it can get a bit crazy, but I love the people and the work it brings. When I left my job working for an HME company in the industry, I wanted to somehow stay involved. My prior job had shown me the importance of homecare and the work that is often necessary to provide these services.
I was blessed to be able to connect with the Big Sky and PAMES Associations. They both allow me to work hand in hand with the members so the goals of the association can be reached.
The real success of both these associations must go to our members. Our members are engaged and committed. We have established good relationships with legislators and payers and meet with them regularly. Although we may not always agree with their guidelines, we have learned how to best bring it to their attention and ideally find an agreeable solution. We have developed mutual respect.
Both associations are fortunate to have several associate members who focus on the association’s success and development. If it were not for the educational, financial, and genuine support we receive from our associate partners, our members would not receive many of the benefits that they do.
The biggest tribute to both associations is their stability and growth. Much of this is due to the strong networking between the Board of Directors, members, and associate members every day. We also stay involved regularly with VGM and other HME associations who guide us to be the best. As we see suppliers decreasing in numbers every day across the U.S., we are fortunate to have built these relationships which help us keep both our associations independent and financially strong.
Q: Do you have any recent success stories from your associations?
A: This question needs to be answered separately as both associations have different focuses.
Big Sky: The biggest success for Big Sky must be its engaged member focus. Considering the extremely rural areas they are forced to deal with regularly, they have learned how to service their patients successfully. Our member companies often team up to address issues. This is often unheard of in the competitive nature of our industry. Together, they become engaged and meet with insurance carriers so the rules can improve coverage and reimbursement.
Over the past couple of years, we found Idaho Medicaid to be paying far below the statutory requirement of their state. With a lot of hard work by Idaho providers, they were able to bring this to their attention, and the state is now paying appropriately.
Montana providers work frequently with the MT Board of Pharmacy so they can better understand the nature of an HME supplier’s business and the regulatory guidelines they are faced with. Big Sky members make it a priority to protect their businesses within the state and keep it focused on providing access and care to their patients.
PAMES: PAMES has been tremendously successful over the past three years in its ability to rebuild and focus on its association. This is truly due to the hard work and commitment of the PAMES Board of Directors. The association’s growth and strength are significant, and we are currently looking at a record number of attendees and associate members for our upcoming conference in September.
PAMES has developed a strong relationship with Washington Medicaid and is currently working on doing the same with Oregon Medicaid. We look at the record number of managed care plans across both states and address how our members can receive the best coverage and reimbursement.
PAMES understands that to be successful, we need to be active and engaged on all issues. With this, we focused on establishing strong committees which address legislative, complex mobility, medical supplies, and respiratory issues. This has been a real win-win for the association.
PAMES is currently working on removing the tax for durable medical equipment in Washington. This requires strong member engagement and legislative action by them. We are currently working with a state senator and having our language developed. After the election in November, we will focus on those in the office with the hope of being successful in the next legislative session in January.
PAMES was also successful in getting recent coverage for high-frequency chest wall oscillatory vest therapy by Oregon Medicaid. This was in part a direct result of information submitted by our respiratory committee and manufacturers.
Q. What are the future goals you hope to achieve with your state associations?
A: For both associations, growth and stability are by far the most important goals to set and achieve. Member networking is a crucial key, and when we do this successfully, our goals of growth and stability will be met. We can only be stronger together.
Q. What are you involved with outside of work?
A: With my husband Pat, two grown boys, and seven grandchildren, I try to focus on what is important to them. Our oldest son, Matt, is married to Tara and has four children. Our youngest son, Brett, is married to Denise, and they have 3 children. Family is by far one of the most important things to me, so I want to be there for them and be engaged in all their activities. Sports have always been a huge part of our lives with hockey, baseball, soccer, and football all playing their part.
I have been fortunate to see Nick and Lexi, our two oldest grandchildren, graduate from college this past year. Parker got married last summer, which was exciting for our family. Alex graduated from high school and loves coaching hockey. We still have one grandson, Ashton, and two granddaughters, Cadee and Elaina, who are still in high school.
In the summers, we enjoy spending time at the lake. We love it when our family comes out and can all be together. Since our summers are so short here in North Dakota, we want to be outside as much as we can. We have built our own little family at the lake with fellow campers and enjoy it immensely.
I am the administrator for the Region D DAC or Jurisdiction D Council. I have held this position for many years and enjoy it. The people I have met, along with the Medicare contractors, have taught me so much and the work brings about a wealth of knowledge.
A part-time job I have is working for a small billing company. Choice Billing and Consulting has a small branch office here in Jamestown where I occasionally help them. I love the interaction with billing staff that this gives me, plus it keeps me updated on some of the issues they see.
I am also a member of AAHomecare’s HME RT and State Leaders Council. I value the knowledge and information I gain from the industry’s parent company and all the leaders in our industry.
My husband, Pat, is on the County Fair Board, so they allow me to help them with their social media advertising. It is a short-term gig that adds to my schedule from May to the end of July, but I enjoy it.
One of my true passions is gardening. I love flowers and the happiness that growing them brings. Often during the winter, seed catalogs take the place of studying payer guidelines as a tool to help fall asleep.
We are also lucky to have two wonderful fur babies. Sutter (labradoodle) and Kora Belle (bernedoodle) fill our lives with love daily.
Overall, I love the work I do. The members of both the Big Sky and PAMES Associations are simply the best. They care about their patients and the work they do.