Medical equipment provider’s are “the tail of the health care dog”

Despite the fact that most Americans would like to spend their retirement years living in their own home, many are forced into hospitals, extended care facilities, nursing homes or retirement communities. Some of these are great, some less than desirable. The truth is that home medical equipment such as wheelchairs, ramps, bathroom aids, and stairlifts are all great ways to help people “age in place.”  But Medicare is cutting this industry deeply.

The DME (durable medical equipment) industry is tiny compared to the hospital industry, doctor organizations and pharmaceutical companies. In fact, we represent less than 2% of the overall Medicare budget. As such, we have very little lobbying clout in Washington. So when it comes time for cutting, guess who gets the biggest whack? 

We’re trying to mobilize legislators to see the sense of using some restraint and common sense when figuring out how to allocate Medicare dollars. Hospitals are great, but do you want to spend your golden years in and out of hospitals, or at home? Of course, it is not an either/or, but the point is clear. A night spent in your own bed is a LOT less expensive to the Medicare budget, than a night spent in the hospital.

YOUR voice is important for your representatives to hear. See below for what you can do to help.

Pharmaceuticals… It’s all about advertising, not R & D.

These two recent articles highlight some of the ironies of our hobbled healthcare system. On the one hand, pharmaceutical companies are spending record amounts on advertising–mostly targeted directly at doctors and consumers. The biggest spender, Johnson & Johnson, shelled out $17.5 billion on sales and marketing in 2013, compared with $8.2 billion for R&D.

One the other hand, doctors –via The American Medical Association– on Tuesday called for a ban on advertising prescription drugs and medical devices directly to consumers, saying the ads drive patients to demand expensive treatments over less costly ones that are also effective.

Trapped in the System: A Sick Doctor’s Story … we know exactly how you feel.

This story illustrates the complexity of navigating our healthcare system. Imagine what its like when you’re an elderly citizen, on a fixed income, with limited access to transportation, and a rudimentary grasp of the internet and online self-service. We’re glad to see a doctor who is part of the system explain his difficulty in getting even the most basic of prescriptions.  If this is how much trouble I have navigating a simple refilling of my medication, I don’t know how the rest of America does it.

Source: Trapped in the System: A Sick Doctor’s Story – The New York Times