043033 UC Ingalls Mental Health Awareness Month Ad Reoirter
Thomas Ryan

Thomas Ryan

Home is where the hurt is

By Thomas Ryan

The days of scrambling to secure toilet paper are over. But the pandemic is continuing to wreak havoc on supply chains.

Pet food is in short supply. Restaurants are warning customers that their favorite meals may not be on the menu. Then there’s the shortage of semiconductor chips, which has raised the price and curbed the availability of medical devices.

Waiting for a piece of medical equipment can be life-threatening. Our leaders must therefore make bolstering the medical supply chain a bigger priority.

GSWNH ThomasRyan 110521

Thomas Ryan

They can start by ensuring the companies that provide and service medical equipment are paid enough to compete for the scarce chips and raw materials that they — and their patients — need.

Many of these companies care for homebound patients who rely on things like motorized wheelchairs, ventilators and home oxygen. More than 63 million of these patients are covered by Medicare.

Pre-pandemic, Medicare’s payment rates to home medical equipment providers were barely sufficient to keep them in business. In the last decade, some 35% of providers closed or stopped serving Medicare beneficiaries.

The pandemic has exacerbated the challenges they face. Providers are waiting months to receive parts to repair things like power wheelchairs. Prices for some parts have shot up 30% since early 2020 due to limited supply.

Over the same time frame, the cost of steel for wheelchairs and hospital beds has jumped over 60%, while the cost of polycarbonate plastics, used for oxygen tubing, nebulizers, canisters, oxygen and PAP masks, has increased by 100%.

Shipping container costs are partly to blame for these dramatic spikes. Since the pandemic began, the cost of these containers has risen more than 1,200%.

Then there’s the chip shortage, which has disrupted production of everything from blood pressure monitors to remote-control hospital beds.

When the price of inputs rises in other industries, companies typically pass the increase on to consumers. But home medical equipment providers are constrained by pre-determined Medicare pricing that doesn’t account for today’s costs.

That leaves them to either stop taking on new patients or absorb the cost increases they’re facing — perhaps by curbing their workforces, shrinking their geographic service area, limiting the selection of products to meet individual’s needs, reducing complimentary but essential services, and more.

All of those options diminish patient outcomes and access.

Congress and the administration must take action to ensure homecare remains viable and accessible for those who need it, now and into the future. That will require addressing the chip shortage.

To his credit, President Biden is taking action to shore up America’s supply lines. He’s created task forces to identify bottlenecks and bring semiconductor chip manufacturing back to the United States.

In the meantime, Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services must make sure home medical equipment providers have the resources to compete for scarce technological inputs. That means raising payment rates.

Medical device manufacturers should not be losing bidding wars over scarce electronic components to non-healthcare providers, just because the latter have the ability to raise prices.

These devices save the health care system billions of dollars a year. It doesn’t make financial sense to starve home medical equipment providers of funds. To survive, they must be paid an amount commensurate with their rising expenses.

Thomas Ryan is president and CEO of the American Association for Homecare (aahomecare.org). This piece originally appeared on InsideSources.com.

Local News

Peggy Zabicki

The young are often our brightest light

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 As summer approaches, we face the discouraging reality of what our neighborhood and our city have become. Carjackings, shootings, dangerous drag racers, assaults and robberies happen every single day. Will things get worse as the weather gets warmer? It is hard to stay positive. Much…

Kathy Headley

Senior linksters headed for Marquette Park

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 Registration is now open for the 39th Senior Amateur Golf Championship at Marquette Park. The event will take place on Saturday and Sunday, June 25-26. Fingers crossed that it does not pour rain on those dates like last…

--Greater Southwest News-Herald photos by Mary Stanek

Plants, books blooming at Peck School

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 “The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” ― Albert Einstein. Thanks to the parents and teachers of Peck School, the location of the library is at the Peck Panther…

2022 primary-election-1321269_1x

CAMPAIGN 2022: Carr, Justak square off to be GOP leader in Lyons Township

By Steve Metsch The race for Republican Committeeperson in Lyons Township is between the current office holder and a mayor eager to replace her. Incumbent Katie Justak, who is in her first election, was appointed to the position in December by Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison(17th), chairman of the Cook County Republican party. Her challenger…

Oak Lawn Police Chief Dan Vittorio (second from left) congratulates members of the police department who received promotions and were officially sworn in at the village board meeting Tuesday. They are (from left) Cmdr. Edward Clancy, Sgt. Finbarr Haran and Lt. Michael Hudziak. (Photo by Joe Boyle)

Oak Lawn officials praise police after arrest

3 officers promoted at meeting By Joe Boyle Oak Lawn officials applauded the efforts of the village police department after an arrest took place following an alleged road rage incident. The incident took place on May 10 when two drivers got into a verbal altercation while driving southbound near 105th and Cicero, according to police. After…

OLCHS logo - Copy

OLCHS students advance in PTSA Reflections contest

Six Oak Lawn Community High School seniors in Jenn Jepsen’s Creative Writing class advanced for literature in the 2021-2022 PTSA Reflections Contest. More than 900 entries in 47 states met the challenge to submit entries expressing “How I Can Change the World.” Emma Jacob’s piece “How Forgiveness Can Change the World” advanced to the National…

EPCHS Principal Bill Sanderson stands with seniors Marissa Burke and Diana Tracey who had perfect attendance throughout their four years of high school. (Supplied photos)

EPCHS students achieve perfect attendance

2 seniors did it for all 4 years Twenty-one Evergreen Park Community High School students were recognized with an offer of a complimentary breakfast in the EPCHS cafeteria on, May 20, for having achieved perfect attendance for the 2021-2022 school year. Perfect attendance is truly an accomplishment, and we commend the following students and their…

Sharon Vojtek, of Palos Heights, and her dog, Spirit, and Meghan Shanahan, of Chicago, and her dog, Keegan, were part of the Oak Lawn Public Library's Finals Week Puppy Break on May 19. (Photos by Kelly White)

Finals Week Puppy Break at the Oak Lawn Library

By Kelly White Spirit, an 8-year-old Border Collie mix, loves being around people. So much so, that she paid a visit to the Oak Lawn Public Library to help students study for finals. That’s right, a dog in a library; and, she wasn’t the only one. The Oak Lawn Public Library, 9427 Raymond Ave., hosted…

More than 100 Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School students, in the sixth- through eighth-grade, took part in the Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 Art Show on April 28 that that celebrated students’ creative accomplishments and artistic talents. (Supplied photos)

OLHMS showcases student artwork

By Kelly White Students in the Oak Lawn community proudly showcased their artists talents last month. More than 100 Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School students, in the sixth- through eighth-grade, took part in the Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 Art Show on April 28 that celebrated students’ creative accomplishments and artistic talents. “When I went to…

regional 2022-0516-palos_sout_say_something_1

Palos South Middle School students recognized for Say Something Week Campaign

From staff reports Students in the Palos South Middle School Save Promise Club have been recognized by the non-profit organization Sandy Hook Promise for their efforts to create a more inclusive school environment. The students were recently named one of the winners of the 2022 Say Something Week Award for their week-long campaign in March…

Neighbors

DVN JCs Restoration House Ad
Peggy Zabicki

The young are often our brightest light

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 As summer approaches, we face the discouraging reality of what our neighborhood and our city have become. Carjackings, shootings, dangerous drag racers, assaults and robberies happen every single day. Will things get worse as the weather gets warmer? It is hard to stay positive. Much…

Kathy Headley

Senior linksters headed for Marquette Park

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 Registration is now open for the 39th Senior Amateur Golf Championship at Marquette Park. The event will take place on Saturday and Sunday, June 25-26. Fingers crossed that it does not pour rain on those dates like last…

--Greater Southwest News-Herald photos by Mary Stanek

Plants, books blooming at Peck School

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 “The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” ― Albert Einstein. Thanks to the parents and teachers of Peck School, the location of the library is at the Peck Panther…

2022 primary-election-1321269_1x

CAMPAIGN 2022: Carr, Justak square off to be GOP leader in Lyons Township

By Steve Metsch The race for Republican Committeeperson in Lyons Township is between the current office holder and a mayor eager to replace her. Incumbent Katie Justak, who is in her first election, was appointed to the position in December by Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison(17th), chairman of the Cook County Republican party. Her challenger…

Oak Lawn Police Chief Dan Vittorio (second from left) congratulates members of the police department who received promotions and were officially sworn in at the village board meeting Tuesday. They are (from left) Cmdr. Edward Clancy, Sgt. Finbarr Haran and Lt. Michael Hudziak. (Photo by Joe Boyle)

Oak Lawn officials praise police after arrest

3 officers promoted at meeting By Joe Boyle Oak Lawn officials applauded the efforts of the village police department after an arrest took place following an alleged road rage incident. The incident took place on May 10 when two drivers got into a verbal altercation while driving southbound near 105th and Cicero, according to police. After…

OLCHS logo - Copy

OLCHS students advance in PTSA Reflections contest

Six Oak Lawn Community High School seniors in Jenn Jepsen’s Creative Writing class advanced for literature in the 2021-2022 PTSA Reflections Contest. More than 900 entries in 47 states met the challenge to submit entries expressing “How I Can Change the World.” Emma Jacob’s piece “How Forgiveness Can Change the World” advanced to the National…

EPCHS Principal Bill Sanderson stands with seniors Marissa Burke and Diana Tracey who had perfect attendance throughout their four years of high school. (Supplied photos)

EPCHS students achieve perfect attendance

2 seniors did it for all 4 years Twenty-one Evergreen Park Community High School students were recognized with an offer of a complimentary breakfast in the EPCHS cafeteria on, May 20, for having achieved perfect attendance for the 2021-2022 school year. Perfect attendance is truly an accomplishment, and we commend the following students and their…

Sharon Vojtek, of Palos Heights, and her dog, Spirit, and Meghan Shanahan, of Chicago, and her dog, Keegan, were part of the Oak Lawn Public Library's Finals Week Puppy Break on May 19. (Photos by Kelly White)

Finals Week Puppy Break at the Oak Lawn Library

By Kelly White Spirit, an 8-year-old Border Collie mix, loves being around people. So much so, that she paid a visit to the Oak Lawn Public Library to help students study for finals. That’s right, a dog in a library; and, she wasn’t the only one. The Oak Lawn Public Library, 9427 Raymond Ave., hosted…

More than 100 Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School students, in the sixth- through eighth-grade, took part in the Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 Art Show on April 28 that that celebrated students’ creative accomplishments and artistic talents. (Supplied photos)

OLHMS showcases student artwork

By Kelly White Students in the Oak Lawn community proudly showcased their artists talents last month. More than 100 Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School students, in the sixth- through eighth-grade, took part in the Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 Art Show on April 28 that celebrated students’ creative accomplishments and artistic talents. “When I went to…

regional 2022-0516-palos_sout_say_something_1

Palos South Middle School students recognized for Say Something Week Campaign

From staff reports Students in the Palos South Middle School Save Promise Club have been recognized by the non-profit organization Sandy Hook Promise for their efforts to create a more inclusive school environment. The students were recently named one of the winners of the 2022 Say Something Week Award for their week-long campaign in March…

DVN Complete Auto Service House Ad
Regional dermatology associates House Ad