Providers Descend on the Hill

Pushing for the CBO to score MPP tops industry’s lobbying agenda.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — With a grey drizzle shrouding the nation’s Capitol, more than 300 providers and other industry representative have launched their lobbying efforts as part of the American Association for Homecare’s annual Washington Conference. The top priority for providers’ legislative appointments is urging lawmakers to push for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to score the industry’s market pricing program (MPP) alternative to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid’s national competitive bidding program (NCB).

To drive as much support for this effort as possible, AAHomecare, slashed the attendance fee for the Washington Conference to $0 for members and $100 for non-members. Moreover, many state associations dipped into their general funds to subsidize members’ travel costs.

While there has been generally positive response to the market pricing program from lawmakers, the industry has not yet been able to affix the program to any specific piece of legislation. The latest frustration came Tuesday, when the industry learned that the MPP had not been attached to the MPP’s latest ray of hope, Congress’s payroll tax compromise.

“We were thrown a curveball by Congress,” said Walt Gorski, AAHomecare’s vice president of Government Affairs.

Gorski explained that the industry was aiming to urge Congress to include the market pricing program in the payroll tax legislation that was moving through Congress. But as the industry was poised to start the Washington Conference’s lobbying efforts, House and Senate leaders that were negotiating this package earlier this week settled on a tentative deal that included the payroll tax, a fix for the physicians and the extension of unemployment insurance, but the MPP wasn’t included.

While the news was disappointing, Gorski reminded providers the lobbying efforts must continue, and the primary ask is to push for the.

“The game’s not over,” Gorski said. “[AAHomecare President and CEO Tyler Wilson] sent me an Abraham Lincoln quote that says, ‘We’ll fight until hell freezes over, and once it does, we’ll fight on the ice.’ … Our message is going to be a little more nuanced. We have to express our frustration at not being included in this piece of legislation, and that we’ve met our lawmakers more than halfway,” he said, noting the industry’s 9.5 percent funding compromise through the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act, which forced a delay and re-bid of Round One of NCB in exchange for program improvements that did not materialize.

“We need to push very hard on the market pricing program, and explain to [lawmakers] to get this done soon,” added.

To that end, pushing for the CBO to score the MPP would increase the NCB alternative’s chances of being attached to any congressional legislation. Gorski also reminded providers to ask Congress members and staff to help identify the possible legislative “vehicles” to which the MPP could be attached.

“Everyone in Washington sees the legislative vehicles moving through Congress as we see them,” Gorski explained. “Our job [in this week’s meetings] is to make this a priority for each member of Congress. With respect to the score, we need members of Congress to go to their respective leaders in the Democratic and Republican party and ask to press the CBO for a score.”

Key leaders the industry is targeting:

  • House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio)
  • Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.)
  • Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.)
  • Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.)\
  • Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.)
  • Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.)
  • Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.)
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)

About the Author

David Kopf is the Editor of HME Business.

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