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Best Wishes To Former Rep. Dave Loebsack: A True HME Industry Champion

Over the past 8 years, Rep. Dave Loebsack was the lead Democrat on many HME related bills; all having to do with accessibility to quality products and services, increasing reimbursement rates, and decreasing regulatory burdens for HME providers. When our team needed him, he was always there. His staff was forever attentive to our issues. In 2019, Dave announced that he was not going to be running for U.S. Congress. This was news felt by the whole HME industry. He was always willing to venture to the other side of the aisle for the HME industry. The news of him retiring was felt by several members of our Government Relations staff.

Mike Mallaro, CEO of VGM, recalls Rep. Loebsack describing his relationship with former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Loebsack and Ryan exercised in the House gym often and became good friends. That always resonated with Mike. It was indicative and shows that Dave did not allow political affiliation to create barriers; he was focused on agreeing to make a difference. Dave was a model U.S. politician.

Tom Powers, Director of VGM Government Relations, connected with Dave and his staff regularly. Dave never hesitated to meet with VGM Government Relations team members face-to-face, by phone, or through email. Tom recalls visiting his office in D.C.:

“He was very bipartisan by working across the aisle. He truly became our champion and Republican members were always willing to work with him. Dave would agree to work with members from the opposite party on Energy and Commerce committee to get bills out of committee.”

Rep. Loebsack also maintained working relationships with VGM members operating in Iowa’s 2nd district. Danette Frauenholtz of U of I Homecare writes:

“Being a political advocate for the DME industry always made me a little uncomfortable until Tom Powers of VGM invited me to Congressman Loebsack's brews and BBQ event in Iowa City. The ability to talk with your congressman in person totally changed my perspective. Dave was so interested in what we had to say; he actually listened. He did an amazing job of putting himself in his constituent’s shoes and understanding how various legislative efforts really affected those in his district. In today's world of decisions being made along political lines, it was so refreshing to have my Congressman represent me and not just the party.”

Lelia Wilkerson of Heritage Medical recalls Dave’s connection with her business:

“Dave visited Heritage Medical on several occasions. One time he visited with many of my employees, one at a time. He wanted to know what they thought the major issues were that the DME providers were having and what they thought needed to do to fix the problems.

Another time I had customers at Heritage Medical and he spoke individually with them. He spent quite a bit of time with each of them. After he left, I spoke with the customers and each of them felt like he really cared about them and their medical problems. One started crying and he comforted her in a very caring way. Whenever I called his office for support of a bill or a DME issue, he always supported us as DME providers. I felt that he was a politician you could trust what he said. He did not say one thing and do another.”

Our government relations team works with many members of Congress. We know when we meet one that is special. Dave was not concerned with limelight or the satisfaction of having his name in a headline. His satisfaction came from being an unsung hero for the HME industry. He matters not just for VGM. The patient waiting on a wheelchair, the patient unable to pay for medical equipment, or the provider willing to deliver medical equipment but is restricted by regulatory burdens. In every situation, Dave has a positive impact. Dave made his time in office truly matter.

Hats off to Rep. Loebsack! Congrats on your retirement and thank you for all you’ve done for the HME industry.

This article is meant to pay homage to the former Democratic representative from Iowa’s 2nd district.

Pictured left to right: Mike Mallaro, Cara Bachenheimer, Rep. Dave Loebsack, Tom Ryan, John Gallagher, Clint Geffert, Tom Powers