Provider gets HME in front of nominee, with senator’s help

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Friday, December 8, 2017

GREEN BAY, Wis. – When provider Steve Huntington received a letter recently from Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., saying she would ask Alex Azar, the nominee for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, to put in writing his plans to address challenges to the HME industry, he knew his grassroots efforts were paying off.

“She reiterated her support for DME, which was real encouraging,” said Huntington, director of finance for HME Home Medical in Green Bay, Wis.

Huntington, who began lobbying for industry efforts in 2016, spoke with HME News recently about why he blocks off time on his calendar to contact lawmakers.

HME News: What made you get involved?

Steve Huntington:Because of all the things that have been happening in the industry, I said, we should get involved. I went out to the AAHomecare Washington Legislative Conference. Rick Adamich took me under his wing. He’d lead, and I’d add some comments here and there, like a color commentator. Then I got involved with contacting different offices after I returned home and I stuck with it.

HME: What have you learned from lobbying?

Huntington:It really hit home how much of their day is spent with lobbyists and you realize what you are up against. It’s a long, tough process with all the things going on in Washington, D.C., right now, and we really have to keep ourselves in front of them with the distractions of the tax bill and the Russia investigation.

HME: Have you hosted lawmakers at your location?

Huntington:We had Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., come in. We walked him around, explained how we help the local patients. His dad was a doctor, and, I believe his brother and an uncle. He said when the family gets together the doctors are all talking about all the paperwork and the red tape in the medical industry. He gets it. We also had Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wis. His father had just passed—he still came and saw us. He knows what it was like having to get the equipment and deal with Medicare and all that.

HME: What advice would you give other providers who are thinking about taking up the cause?

Huntington:I know everyone is busy, but there are some days I just set aside a couple of hours and call a couple of offices or send out emails, particularly when we are trying to get co-sponsors or there’s a letter going around. What I’ve found to be effective is crafting your email and being sincere about the issues you are facing.