5 Minutes with Jim Stephenson

Jim Stephenson

Jim Stephenson (kneeling, with friends and family at a 5K run to honor Ohio police officer Jim Kerstetter, who was killed in the line of duty) is Reimbursement & Coding Manager at Permobil.

Of the projects I’m working on, I’m most excited by…being on the Regulatory Council for AAHomecare. I’m really excited to be doing something for the industry at a national level as opposed to being behind the scenes, and I’m excited to be involved with people from a lot of different companies. It’s great to be in a room where everybody is on the same page and fighting for the same causes. It’s not all rehab folks, but it’s people likeminded within their own product categories.

The technology segment I’m most intrigued by is… definitely pediatrics. I feel it’s an underserved population. Kids get equipment they can make do with, but is it the right product that actually fits them and goes hand in hand with the environment where they spend most of their time? From a manufacturer perspective, why wouldn’t you want to encompass that pediatric segment? If you put somebody in a power chair at 2 or 3 years old and they love it, when it comes time to get their next chair, where are they going to go? If you go to the PDAC Web site and look at pediatric power wheelchair codes, there’s something like four chairs for that entire market. I would love to see the next big product that takes the pediatric market by storm, I guess because I’m a parent, and I have relatives who have been challenged by life-altering conditions.

What the industry needs most right now is… a united voice. We have a lot of good people doing really good things, but we’re not always on the same page. The Capitol Hill conferences are within a month of each other. You go in for one, and you’re talking about X, Y and Z. You go in the next time, and you’re talking about A, B and C. To the people on Capitol Hill, it’s like, “A month ago, you were asking for these two or three things. Now you’re asking for different things. What’s most important to you?” There have been positive things happening, but it’s been because people are going into these meetings and not mixing their messages.

We’ve gained ground on… our relationship with CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services]. Being part of the Regulatory Council, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in meetings with folks at CMS that opened my eyes a bit. There are people in Baltimore who get it and are willing to be soldiers in our fight to get further down the path than we have gotten on our own.

What I wish I could change about CRT is… the constant challenges, changes and threats to adequate reimbursement. People who need our equipment have dealt with enough. They don’t need to worry about funding, coverage challenges and nit-picking technical denials that have nothing to do with medical necessity guidelines. I don’t expect it to ever be perfect, but better would be awesome.

An industry member I admire is… Cara Bachenheimer. I worked with her for 14 years; she’s an attorney by trade and smart as anything. She’s such a good person, approachable and personable. For somebody at that level, with as good a reputation as she has, to still be so down to earth — I really admire that. When all is said and done, I hope somebody would say something comparable about me.

In my personal life, a person I admire is… my son Tyler. He’s smart, passionate, genuine and incredibly humble about it. He treats everybody well, whether they deserve it or not. He makes me strive to be and do better. The world could use a lot more people like him.

My favorite industry event is… [VGM] Heartland is hands-down my favorite because the atmosphere is awesome. It’s a great educational event. And the hospitality — nobody does it better than they do.

My favorite tradeshow city is… I work for a company in Nashville, and Nashville happens to be my favorite city. Two of the largest rehab providers are based in Tennessee, and Nashville is centrally located for travel purposes. Plus it’s a really cool town after hours.

I want to be remembered as… being passionate and caring, as somebody who did everything in my power to make sure that people got what they needed, and providers got adequate reimbursement to support those needs.

The last great meal I had was… a really awesome steak on Maui. I don’t know if it was great because it was Maui, but it was probably the best steak I’ve ever had. I was with my wife, Sue — just us, which doesn’t happen very often. That may have magnified it just a bit too.

This article originally appeared in the January 2019 issue of Mobility Management.

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