Rural Bid Reform Garners More Support

S.2736 adds Sens. Stabenow, Lankford to pool of co-sponsors.

Support for S. 2736, the Patient Access to Durable Medical Equipment Act, is beginning to grow, with the bill adding two more backers in the upper chamber this week.

Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and James  Lankford (R-Okla.) signed on as co-sponsors for the bid expansion reform, brining the bill’s total number of co-sponsors to 17.

Introduced into the Senate by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), the bipartisan, budget-neutral legislation would reform 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.

The American Association for Homecare is currently urging the industry to help push the Senate legislation during the month. To that end, the association has developed an advocacy action plan to reach Senators while they are in their home states during Congressional recesses.

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.

HME Business Podcast