Editor’s Note

Let’s Buck the Trend

The industry must give the MPP a unified push while there’s still time.

There’s a huge problem with American politics these days: we’re a bunch of babies. At a time when the American economy is literally on the ropes, the most our government — and we, the electorate — can do is bicker to the point of uselessness. The unemployment rate has been hovering above 9 percent for months; one in every 213 U.S. homes was in foreclosure during the third quarter; 46 million Americans live below the poverty line; and 49.9 million Americans without health insurance. No matter how you slice it, thesituation is a mess.

But America has been paralyzed from a public policy standpoint when comes to doing anything about that mess, and we have the hard-liners across the board to thank for it. Whether its stimulus, tax cuts, tax hikes, Federal jobs programs — pick your hot button — our law makers have done their level best to accomplish ... nothing.

It reminds me of an interview I heard a couple months ago in which an expert on Indian politics was comparing the Unites States’ current economic and political situation to that of India’s politics in the 1970s and 1980s. As you might recall, the India of that era was not the up-and-coming growth economy that it is now. If anything it was in the doldrums and poverty reigned.

The reason? India’s government, and particularly its parliament, had become so divided and polarized that what happened in its houses was so partisan that it had almost reached a state of theatrics. A focus on party and sides and electoral positioning had completely disconnected India’s legislative body from what was going on in the country. India’s government was making itself irrelevant, and India was suffering as a result.

I look at the U.S. Congress and see little different. The Super Committee is a perfect example. The Thanksgiving deadline for the Super Committee’s budget plan came and went, and about the only progress congress made was discussing a repeal of the deadline. Yep, you read that right, they’re talking about removing the deadline for the budget plan from a super committee that was set up by Congress because it couldn’t come up with a budget by itself. Now discussion is focused on the mandatory sequestration cuts per the original super committee arrangement; that's a 2 percent across-the-board haircut for Medicare funding.

Good grief. That kind of fecklessness would be almost comical if it didn’t make me want to cry. 

That’s why the industry needs to get behind the recently released market pricing program alternative to competitive bidding. As I mentioned in my last column, the pace of support for the bid repeal bill H.R. 1041 has become almost glacial at this point, and there is neither companion legislation, nor champion in the Senate. But, the current details of the MPP are that the Round One reimbursement rates will stand during its implementation. And that is where the industrycould lose its unity.

Any break in industry support for what is easily the most viable option it has from a public policy perspective for stopping NCB — especially in this legislative environment — would leave us with little alternative but to accept what Round Two of competitive bidding has to offer. The industry needs to take a shot at garnering lawmaker support for an MPP proposal that somehow softens the blow for Round One providers. That will preserve the solid level of support the MPP initially received and hopefully see it passed.

This article originally appeared in the December 2011 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Editor of HME Business.

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