AAHomecare Outlines S.2736 Action Plan

Association calls on industry to help push legislation in Senate while priming House lawmakers to back nascent companion bill due in April.

The American Association for Homecare has developed an advocacy plan for the industry in order to drive Senate support S. 2736, the Patient Access to Durable Medical Equipment Act, as well as lay the groundwork for House companion legislation that is due to be launched in April

Introduced last week by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), the bipartisan, budget-neutral S. 2736 includes provisions that would reform the national expansion of competitive bidding in multiple ways:

  • Delay implementation of the second phases of reimbursement cuts for HME items in non-bid areas from July 1, 2016 until at least Oct. 1, 2017.
  • Replace the bid ceiling for future rounds of bidding with the unadjusted fee service rates from Jan. 1, 2015, rather than CMS’ current plans to cap future bid ceilings at the previous bid rates.
  • Require CMS to solicit stakeholder input and consider travel costs, volume, and clearing price, as well as the numbers of providers serving bid areas, when setting rates for Jan. 2019 and beyond.
  • Require CMS to monitor and provide monthly online updates regarding Medicare beneficiaries’ access to HME and their health outcomes related to HME.
  • Advance the start date of the federal portion of Medicaid reimbursement mirroring Medicare rates by three months, from calendar year 2019 to fiscal year 2019. This would push the start date from Jan. 1, 2019 to Oct 1, 2018.

AAHomecare’s Take Action plan for the Senate legislation includes the following tools to help providers lobby their Senators:

  • A "Send an email to Congress" page for quickly sending a letter to lawmakers in support of S. 2736 (and forthcoming House companion legislation). AAHomecare suggests providers share the link with friends, family and other potential supporters.
  • An updated issue brief that provides additional detail and talking points on why this budget-neutral, bipartisan legislation is critically needed.
  • The S. 2736 bill text.
  • A list of current co-sponsors to help providers determine if their Senators are already co-signers of the bill.

The action plan also intends to generate strong outreach to house members needed during recess period to help champions in the House, who have asked AAHomecare to make an extra effort to build awareness and support in advance of companion House legislation.  

“We need as many original cosponsors on the legislation before the April 12 target introduction date,” a statement from the association read.

The association advised that providers ask members of the House to contact Rep. Tom Price (R.-Ga.) and agree to be co-sponsor of the nascent bill, as well as contact House leadership, as well as Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committee leaders about the bill. 

“It is vitally important that we build co-sponsorship and gain support on these two committees in advance of introduction, so please make every effort to make these requests of House members in the next two weeks,” the association added. “And, if you are represented by any members on those influential committees, your efforts to contact those offices directly will be especially valuable. Direct engagement with legislators and their staff members is the most effective means to advocate for better public policy for HME.”

The action plan also suggested providers make plans to meet with their legislators when they return to their home districts for Congressional recesses in the coming weeks.  In addition to the upcoming Easter recess for both the House and Senate (Mar. 24 – Apr. 1), legislators will be on break from the Capitol during these periods:

  • Apr. 4-11 (House)
  • May 2-6 (House & Senate)
  • May 30-June 3 (House & Senate)

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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