Editor's Note

What's at Stake

The fight to replace CMS's bidding program with the MPP goes beyond business.

When you read this, we’ll be in the remaining days in the run up to the 2012 Presidential election. Many providers will be campaigning hard not for their choice for President of the United States, but for H.R. 6490, the Medicare DMEPOS Market Pricing Program Act of 2012, which aims to replace CMS’s bidding program with the industry’s market pricing program (MPP).

The bill was launched into the House of Representatives by Rep. Tom Price’s (R-Ga.) in late September, and so far, as I write this, it has 16 co-sponsors signed onto the bill. That small number of Congressional backer has me a little worried.

The reason I take pause at that level of support is that our best chance to advance H.R. 6490 in the House is right now, as I type this note. I am just returning from Medtrade 2012, which was held Oct. 16-18 at the Georgia World Convention Center. At the show, American Association for Homecare President Tyler Wilson pointed out the annual Washington Update that the industry has a good, but very narrow window of opportunity that will close at the end of Congress’s December lame duck session.

The lame duck session represents an opportunity where some effective legislative work can get done. As Alex Vogel of lobbying firm Mehlman, Vogel and Castagnetti Inc. pointed out at the same Washington Update, lawmakers are looking to work on sure bets, and a sure bet would be addressing the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (a.k.a, the “doc fix”). So, there is solid hope for attaching Price’s MPP bill to any doc fix legislation that passes through the House.

And that’s why providers need to drive support for the bill. If you’re curious about how to go about doing that, read this issue’s Observation Deck column by AMEPA president Rob Brant (“Preaching to the Converted”). He not only outlines some basic steps you can take to reach your lawmaker and what to say, but he also outlines a strategic approach everyone in the industry should take in order to leverage our past successes in securing co-sponsors for previous pieces of industry legislation.

But beside that, ask yourself: How hard have you lobbied? I’ll be the first to answer that question: I haven’t lobbied nearly hard enough. My Congressman is Rep. Bruce Campbell (R-Calif.), and I haven’t reached out to him as sternly as I should. Sure, I’m an editor, and there’s a journalistic hesitation to engage in any lobbying or advocacy, but I’m also a member of this industry, and an American citizen who happens to have a mother who depends on Medicare. I have a right to reach out to him, and, as AAHomecare’s Wilson urges, I’m going to “redouble” my efforts.

And if you don’t initially secure your lawmaker’s support? Keep asking. They say that in sales you have to ask at least six times to get the business. I try to apply that axiom on persistence to lots of things in life, and it certainly applies to industry advocacy. I can guarantee you that if I don’t get somewhere with Campbell on the first try, I’m going to become downright annoying (okay, more annoying than most people already find me).

But the industry has been fighting competitive bidding for a long time. It’s hard for some people to get fired up, even when the timing is so tight. For those people, I say one thing: remember what it’s all about. The fight to secure the MPP is not just about your business or your livelihood, it’s about your patients, as well as all the Americans located in the 91 competitive bidding areas having the right access to the right care. H.R. 6490 protects your patients’ health, your family’s health, and your health. If that isn’t worth redoubling your effort, I don’t know what is.

This article originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/dkopf/ and on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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