HME Heads to the 'Hill'

Providers hold roughly 300 meetings with lawmakers to advance multi-pronged agenda.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More than 250 HME providers from 33 states held roughly 300 meetings with Senators and Representatives June 3, as part of the American Association for Homecare’s June 1-3 Washington Legislative Conference.
As the Obama Administration, HHS and Congress gears up to reform U.S. healthcare, providers brought a multipoint agenda to their meetings.
Their chief message was to implore members of Congress to advise CMS to halt the implementation of its interim final rule to re-bid round one of competitive bidding, and to either overhaul NCB or end the program entirely before reimplementation is considered. This was a sentiment supported by speaker Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio), who led the effort to get 84 Representatives to sign a House sign-on letter urging CMS to stop the program.
“We must have adequate numbers of providers in order to preserve access to care,” Sutton said in her address, in which she also described the affects of round one on her district as dramatically reducing patient access to needed care and equipment.
That sentiment was echoed by the event’s keynote speaker, long-time homecare advocate Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), who shared his opinion of NCB’s impact in his state.
“I've been deeply involved in your problems with competitive bidding, and what you've experienced so far,” Specter said. “Pittsburgh, in my state, was disastrous.
“It appears that the admin is heading for competitive bidding again,” he added. “Well, it can be done sensibly or it can be done foolishly, like they did last time.”
Oxygen: A Mixed Message
While providers’ agenda concerning NCB was clear, attendees did not appear to deliver a unified message when it came to the 36-month oxygen rental cap and overall oxygen benefit policy. Specifically, AAHomecare called on attendees to support the New Oxygen Coalition’s reform platform to change the oxygen benefit so that HMEs would be seen as providers of a service, rather than suppliers.
At the time of the event, the NOC’s policy was still being drafted into legislative language so that it could be dropped into any healthcare reform legislation that was eventually debated and voted upon by Congress. So, AAHomecare urged attendees to support the policy by advising congress members in their meetings that the policy was coming and urging them to support it.
Moreover, it was suggested to providers that they not urge support of H.R. 2373, the HOPP Act, which calls for the elimination of the 36-month rental cap, in favor of the NOC’s much broader reform.
However, the plan has been the subject of some debate, as moving to provider status could negatively impact smaller providers who could not afford the costs associated with that switch.
As a result during a question-and-answer session regarding oxygen policy, two providers said that they would prefer to  have “two bullets” in their “gun” and that they would first be urging House Representatives to support the HOPP Act. to repeal the rental cap, and then urging all Congress members to support a subsequent reform package.
Besides the industry’s two big “asks” in regard to NCB and the oxygen rental cap, providers also called upon lawmakers to restore the 9.5 percent that was cut from complex rehab, and advanced AAHomecare’s 13-point anti-fraud plan, by asking congress members to impress upon HHS and CMS that CMS simply adopt the plan, which was originally released in late October.


Fri, Jun 5, 2009

Ok I do not get this industry. I have been in the industry for 30 years 10 years now owning my own company. We have been pushed around long enough and I do not understand why we don't stand up and push back. We as ethical suppliers did not make the mess of the unethical suppliers. Medicare made the mess and we are blamed for it. The power w/c problem in Texas was Medicare's problem. Why would Medicare let a region get so far out of hand with fraud and abuse because they wanted to. It could have been stoppped right away if somebody was looking at the claims going through. I have a hard time getting paid for claims that are done correctly. And now the burden is on us as suppliers because of the inept Goverment program. We have to pay thousands of dollars to become accredited because of the inept Goverment Medicare program. We have to have a surety bond because of the inept Goverment Medicare progaram.We have cuts in our allowabes because of the inept Goverment Medicare program. We as suppliers and service providers and we are service providers read anything in the Medicare standards and what we have to do to become accredited we don't just deliver the equipment like any other type of company that delivers goods we train people how to use the equipment and make sure there house is safe for the use of the equipment etc. We go out at all hours of the night to provide the service if anything goes wrong with the equipment and if it is not capped we get to move the equipment from one location to another(Hospital Bed) etc. That is on our dime. Nobody pays us for that and it certainly is not in the allowable anymore. Yes we are a service provider not a delivery service. We have the power to put Congress in it's place by not providing for the Medicare program any longer (ALL OF US.)What would happen if we just stopped doing business for the Medicare patient, kaous. Then Congress would get an idea how important we are to the Medicare program and the health care system. Just say no to competitive bid.Say no to 36th month cap on oxygen and we will have the power back in our hands because it will force Congress to come up with a better plan. We are important to the health care delivery system and we need to let them know this loud and clear.

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