Advocacy: Mind the GAPs

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Friday, September 4, 2020

WASHINGTON – A revamped Grassroots Accountability Project led by AAHomecare and VGM now has volunteers in place covering legislative offices in 31 states, but it needs more. 

There are a total of 535 legislative offices nationwide. 

“We have a number of other states that are closing down on that goal, as well,” said Ashley Plauché, assistant director of member and public relations for AAHomecare. “We’re shooting for one go-to person for each office, plus others to validate that perspective.” 

AAHomecare and VGM announced in August that they were more formally partnering on the project, in conjunction with state and regional HME associations, to raise the noise level on the industry’s advocacy efforts. 

As part of the revamped GAP, which was first launched in 2018 as the Congressional Accountability Project, volunteers will have access to new tools like a website specifically developed for advocacy that includes an interactive map of the co-sponsors of past and current industry bills. 

“We want this to be a turnkey experience for volunteers,” Plauché said. “We’re also putting together some tutorials for those volunteers who are new to advocacy on things like how to schedule a meeting and how to invite a legislator to a facility tour.” 

The GAP will be key to the industry’s efforts to, for example, delay Round 2021 of Medicare’s competitive bidding program and permanently exempt accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs from bid pricing. 

“We want their commitment to be consistent, and we want them to keep informed and stay engaged, so when there is an ask or an initiative that needs attention, they’ll make sure we have access to those offices,” Plauché said. 

The industry already does a great job advocating, as evidenced by its recent efforts to get more than 100 representatives to sign on to a letter asking CMS to delay Round 2021 in less than one week. But when it comes to advocacy, more is always better. 

“GAP will allow us to get more of a footing in advocacy,” said Emily Harkin, executive administrator, government relations, for VGM & Associates. “It’s more advocates; more resources; and hopefully more results.”