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By MATTHEW HAY
HHBR Washington Correspondent
ALEXANDRIA Newly appointed National Association for Medical Equipment Services (NAMES; Alexandria, VA) Chairman Mario Lacute met with representatives from several home care groups May 19 to discuss the establishment of a new organization to represent the home care industry.
The meeting was hosted at the Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA; Alexandria, VA), which administers the Home Care Coalition. Many of the groups belonging to that coalition had prepared a letter addressed to former NAMES President Bill Coughlan formally asking him to discontinue the Coalition for Health Care at Home, which he had announced earlier in the year. However, Coughlan was removed as NAMES president earlier in the week and did not attend the meeting. Several executives present at the meeting say Coughlan’s plans for another coalition is now a dead issue.
In addition to the five national home health associations and HIDA, the Home Care Coalition enjoys the support of the National Home Infusion Association (Alexandria, VA) and the National Alliance for Infusion Therapy (Washington), as well as several major manufacturing companies, such as Invacare (Elyria, OH) and Sunrise Medical (Carlsbad, CA). "Frankly, it looked to many of us that Coughlan was just grandstanding," said one industry executive. "I think that was partly responsible for his demise at NAMES."
Nevertheless, Lacute, president of Seeley Medical (Andover, OH), joins a chorus of home care leaders who are seeking new ways to bring the various components of home care into a cohesive group. Lacute told HHBR that he believes the current assortment of associations and coalitions leaves the home care industry ill-equipped to meet future challenges. He linked the various components of the home care industry to the various components of the hospital industry and said home care must be represented in a similar fashion.
Meanwhile, veteran industry analyst Schuyler Hoss circulated a letter to industry leaders last week calling for a leadership forum that he told HHBR is also aimed at generating industry unity.
Yet, a third voice calling for changes is Invacare President/CEO Malachi Mixon. At HIDA’s Washington conference last month, Mixon said he is "a big believer that necessity is the mother of invention. . . . Perhaps we will have to be beaten about the head and shoulders a few more times before we finally decide that we need to have a united voice."