AAHomecare’s Ryan: 'We Can Beat This Thing'

Association updates industry on efforts to rein in competitive bidding, as well other initiatives.

As the industry approaches the Round Two re-compete, efforts to back legislation that would reform competitive bidding remain in a good position for getting passed, as long as providers keep up the fight, according to the American Association for Homecare.

Speaking to attendees of the association’s Washington Update, which was held at Medtrade 2014, AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan reminded providers there were in a good position to advance H.R. 4920, the Binding Bids bill.

“I’ve been beat up, but I believe we can win this thing,” Ryan said. “We know it’s a great industry. Private equity is coming into this industry everyday because they love the demographics.”

H.R. 4920, launched into the House by Reps. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) and John Larson (D-Conn.) in late June, would require bidders to possess special surety bonds that would require them to live up to their bid amounts, and essentially remove the threat of suicide bidding.

The Binding Bids bill currently has 49 co-sponsors, and could actually see enactment as early as December, according to Jay Witter, AAHomecare’s senior vice president for Public Policy. This would help the bill influence the Round Two re-compete.

“We are in the best position I have ever seen,” Witter told the Washington Update attendees. “We are clicking on all cylinders because we have fought together — but we can’t let up.”

That said, time is somewhat tight for the bill, given that it would lapse with the end of the 113th Congress. The key, according to Witter is to get the bill passed as part of a package of legislation, or to get it on the suspension calendar. Bills that are non-controversial and have bi-partisan support can be placed on special calendar that suspends various rules to help expedite their passage. The key is to have solid support from key committees, and Tiberi has gotten approval from Energy and Commerce and the Ways and Means committees.

Other Efforts

In addition to AAHomecare’s support for the binding bids bill, Kim Brummett, vice president of Regulatory Affairs, told the audience she is leading multiple initiatives to establish better relationships with CMS in hopes of generating progress on face-to-face regulations, along with mobility and oxygen testing requirements.

On the topic of expansion of competitive bidding into non-bid areas,

Additionally, Brummett said she had met with CMS staff members to discuss 55 pages of comments made on CMS’s proposed rule to expand competitive bid pricing nationally by 2016. The proposed rule is particularly troubling, because it would jeopardize rural providers currently not impacted by competitive bidding. Those providers wouldn’t have the kind of business volume that could possibly make up for Round Two’s drastic funding cuts (Round Two’s average reimbursement reduction was 45 percent).

“This [proposed expansion of CB] is a really scary rule,” Brummet said.

Ryan also reviewed consumer-focused initiatives such as Save My Medical Supplies (www.savemymedicalsupplies.org) and the HME Audit Key, a comprehensive effort to collect valid data as ammunition for legislative battles.

“We are facing many challenges, and we have a long way to go in a lot of areas,” Ryan. said “This association should be quadruple the size it is today. We need to be larger … But I’m an optimist, and this industry is poised for change and growth. If we continue to fight for patients, we can win this.”

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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