John Goetz (with his wife, Whitney, and son, George) is Director of Government Affairs for Permobil.
Of the projects I’m working on, I’m most excited by… working with CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services], trying to change the restriction on titanium upgrades [to ultralightweight chairs]. I’ve had meetings with some of the political staff, and they’ve asked for suggestions on how we want to see this fixed. That’s really exciting. In the past, we’ve had walls thrown up against us. This is the first time we’ve been asked, “How would you fix this in a perfect world?” So we’re working to get them suggestions, not just for the titanium issue, but also for upgrades in general, what we think would be best for the entire industry. I’m hopeful it will come out positively, without us having to go to Congress to pass a law to fix it.
Of CRT’s challenges right now, I’m most concerned about… not necessarily a specific issue, but more of an entrenched bias by CMS against our industry, especially on the manual side of CRT. We’ve got this upgrade restriction, we have the lack of appropriate funding. Public payors are not keeping up with technology; they’re just broadening codes and making everything as generic as possible. It’s stifling the industry and restricting access to the users they’re charged to serve.
The technology segment I’m most intrigued by is… the new technologies, the apps, our Connected wheelchair. They’re taking the user experience to the next level. It’s allowing for data collection and allowing for the entire person to be served by this technology. I think we can go a lot of different places with it.
What the industry needs most is… a unified message. It’s hard for us to have that message right now because we’re always putting out fires. Beyond that, we need to figure out what we really want as an industry. We need to have a concise, simple message so everybody is saying the same thing. I feel that gets lost sometimes, especially as I’m talking to policy makers. As a former [Congressional] staffer, it was always better when a group came in with one message.
We’ve gained ground on… our education of Congress. When I started, I had to explain what CRT was, what made CRT different from general DME. Now you say “CRT,” and you don’t have to explain anything more.
I wish I could change… the engagement by end users. We have a really good group now that’s engaged, but I think we need a broader group of users willing to have their voices heard. What really helps is to have the people who are benefiting from the technology, saying, “If you take this away, this is how it affects my life.”
My favorite thing about CRT is… every time we get a win, it affects our users personally. It’s the satisfaction of knowing that you have a higher cause.
An industry member I really admire is… Dave McCausland. He mentored me when I came to Permobil and has guided me into my position now. I admire the way he can look at the big picture, put everything into context, and communicate it well. That’s a skills set that’s unique and important for us. As he moves into retirement — he calls it diversification — I hope we don’t lose that.
My favorite recent event was… We had a Go Baby Go event here earlier this year. While I wasn’t intimately involved, having kids here and seeing them get into adapted toys and moving around independently for the first time — you couldn’t help but get a smile on your face.
My favorite business travel hack is… I love airplanes because I can work without interruption. Put your headphones on, and you’re in a different world. I use that as my hack. But maybe I have to figure out how to get some upgrades for free.
If I could give my younger self a message, it would be… not to take myself too seriously and to take more chances. There are things I missed because I hesitated or thought they would make me uncomfortable. At this point, I think, “Who cares if somebody would have thought that was stupid? It could have led to something great.”
I want to be remembered by this industry as… being someone who really worked to make things better. My dad uses a Group 3 chair, and if I can make the world better for him and everyone who uses the technology, that’s how I’d like to be remembered.
The last great meal I had was… there’s an Italian restaurant in D.C. called RPM. It’s a nice restaurant, but not too nice. They give you really good portions, and it tasted like the pasta I had when I was in Italy.
People would be surprised to learn that I… used to competition weight lift in high school. I won medals in my weight classes. It was fun. I really enjoyed it.