CMS Responds to House Letter on Non-Invasive Vents

Agency fails to address the core issue of the service levels required by these devices and the vulnerable patients using them. The stage is set of a legislative response.

CMS has responded to a House sign-on letter urging HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma to remove non-invasive ventilators from Round 2021 of competitive bidding, and it wasn’t what the industry was hoping to hear.

Administrator Verma responded individually to the 180 Representatives that signed the letter, which was introduced into the lower chamber by Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), saying that Medicare had implemented measures to protect access.

“The response fails to address central tenets of the House sign-on letter, including the idea that ‘the adequacy of Medicare payment for critical services like home ventilatory care is paramount’ and the fact that CMS has not previously included items requiring frequent and substantial servicing in the bidding program,” the American Association for Homecare noted in a public statement.

In addition to that, AAHomecare went further in its statement, adding that “CMS’s response underscores the need for a legislative solution to keep non-invasive ventilators out of the bidding program,” it read. “Our Congressional champions on this issue are expected to release a bill on NIV in competitive bidding very soon.”

Helping to set the stage for that, Rep. Griffith spoke to the need to keep non-invasive ventilators out of Round 2021 in a hearing on Administration healthcare policy by the Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee last week.

“I just got your letter yesterday afternoon in response to that letter, where you said we’re not going to do it on invasive,” Griffith stated. “But here’s the problem I have: I have a rural district, as does my friend Mr. Welch. What happens is that if you go to this cost-only issue, you’re going to make someone drive 45 minutes to an hour… if the low-cost supplier is only located in town. I would ask you to really take a look at that because in the rural districts, our folks are not going to get served.”

AAHomecare added that a “strong and impossible-to-ignore grassroots campaign” from the HME industry and it constituents supporting the imminent legislation will play a critical role in protecting patient access to these devices.

 

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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