Hey Dr. Price! The good guys need you, tout suite!

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Monday, August 28, 2017

On Feb. 10, 2017, the song, “Happy days are here again” and “For he’s a jolly good fellow” could be heard from California to the New York, from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters. High fives all around, Party City! Why? Dr. Tom Price, the undisputed supporter of the DME industry, was nominated and confirmed to the Trump Cabinet as Health and Human Services Secretary.

If I heard it once, I heard it many times over: We could not have hand-picked a better person to be in this position. It was as if my brother-in-law or an old college buddy was now able to make a real difference, especially for the DME industry. Today, I’m having serious doubts about our champion.

The question that’s on everyone’s mind is: What is taking so long for Dr. Price to act on the very thing he leads the way on? It reminds me of the movie “Braveheart” when the evil king’s army (CMS, they are not totally evil, but almost...) is charging on horseback with spears drawn, racing to destroy the good guys (the DME industry) who are on foot and look like they are on their last legs. In the movie, the good guys at the last-minute stave off the attack of CMS (oops, I meant the evil king). One can only imagine how the good army felt as they are holding their ground as the thundering hooves of the evil army approaches.

According to information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act retrieved by industry advocates from data.medicare.gov, the estimated number of DME suppliers and locations have dropped by nearly 38% nationwide. I believe that number to be much higher due to the number of suppliers who chose to sell out to larger companies. It is hard to believe that nearly half of the good guys are gone. If Dr. Price fails to act soon, more of the good guys are soon to follow.

What is confusing is that Dr. Tom Price has been a strong champion of the DME industry over six terms in Congress; he knows and has known that the evil army is approaching and the good guys are in harm’s way. Dr. Price has spent considerable valuable time and effort trying to make changes to save the good guys. Simply put, the DME industry needs relief and they need it toot sweet.  

Many providers are scratching their heads (me, I’ve got a bald spot), wondering why it’s taking so long for someone who knows what DME companies are going through. Sure, the battle over the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is raging on in Congress and in the rest of the country. Dr. Price is smack dab in the middle of it, but surely our hero could take a moment from the current stalemate of the ACA and save the good guys. 

The good guys need to do what we did in Washington, D.C., in May. The good guys convinced over one-third of Congress to sign on to a letter urging Dr. Price to act on our issues and act now. One would think that the 21st Century Cures Act was a clear enough seal of approval for Dr. Price to act on. The act was signed by President Barack Obama. Even President Obama recognized that the cuts Medicare made in 2016 were too deep.  

The good guys need to start squeaking like a giant Ferris wheel. The DME industry has the Cures Act on its side, two Dear Colleague letters, 38% fewer providers and recently The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has recognized how Medicare has negatively affected small businesses.

What more does Dr. Price need? A flaming bush in the wilderness? Good guys, let us rise up and start making some serious noise before it’s too late!

Jonathan Temple is the chief servant at OxyMed, LLC in Birmingham, Ala.