August Advocacy Boosts Industry Bills

Binding bids bill picks up 8 co-sponsors; audit reform bill adds 7 backers.

Intensive industry efforts to lobby on behalf of two key pieces of legislation has begun to pay off. Bills designed to reform CMS’s audit program and fix a key problem with competitive bidding picked up new co-sponsors as congress came back to Capitol Hill after its August recess.

H.R. 5083, known as the Audit Improvement and Reform Act (aka, the AIR Act), was introduced into the House in July by Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.) in hopes of addressing many of the problems providers have been suffering due to Medicare’s unchecked audit system.

Specifically, the bill aims to address key problems by boosting transparency within the program; providing better education and outreach; and rewarding suppliers that have low error rates on audited claims.

The bill picked up seven new backers, bringing its total of co-sponsors to 21. The new backers are:

  • Rep. Thomas Massie (Ky.)
  • Rep. Gregg Harper (Miss.)
  • Rep. Richard L. Hanna (N.Y.)
  • Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (Mo.)
  • Rep. Austin Scott (Ga.)
  • Rep. Lou Barletta (Pa.)
  • Rep. Michael G. Grimm (N.Y.)

H.R. 4920, known as the Binding Bids bill, would make all bids binding and would require providers to obtain bonds before bidding. This would eradicate the practice of suicide bidding that has ravaged the industry. Reps. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) and John Larson (D-Conn.) introduced the legislation in late June. 

The bill picked up eight additional co-sponsors since last week, bringing its total number of backers to 37 Representatives. The new H.R. 4920 co-sponsors are:

  • Rep. Jackie Walorski (Ind.)
  • Rep. Gregg Harper (Miss.)
  • Rep. Richard L. Hanna (N.Y.)
  • Rep. David Scott (Ga.)
  • Rep. Austin Scott (Ga.)
  • Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio)
  • Rep. Michael G. Grimm (N.Y.)
  • Rep. Chris Stewart (Utah)

Getting providers to contact their lawmakers on behalf of the legislation during August recess is particularly important, given the time constraints the industry is working under. This is important, because the 113th Congress has until the next election. Time is tight, but both bills’ limited scope and overall political neutrality give them a good chance. 

Successfully picking up co-sponsors could bring the binding bids bill up for a vote as a standalone bill, based on rules that help congress put non-controversial bills on what is called the suspension calendar. Those can be voted very quickly through the process. 

 

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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