AAHomecare, Advocates Hit the Hill

Industry legislative experts have been meeting with legislators for a week to push for S. 2736 and rural bid expansion reform.

With 10 weeks before CMS implements its full national bid expansion cuts, American Association for Homecare staff and senior government relations experts from various HME industry stakeholders hit Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers to discuss reforming the bid expansion, especially where rural HME providers were concerned.

Taking advantage of both the House and Senate being in session, industry advocates began meeting with lawmakers starting last Thursday in support of S. 2736, the Patient Access to Durable Medical Equipment Act of 2016, as well as for expected House companion legislation. Amongst S.2736's provisions are two key reforms:

  • 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.

Among the lawmakers advocates met with were Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.); and Reps. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Gene Green (D-Tex.), Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), and Bill Johnson (R-Ohio).

Industry advocates included AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan; Jay Witter, vice president of public policy for AAHomecare; John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for VGM; Bill Guidetti, East Zone executive vice president for Apria Healthcare; Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare Corp. and Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products.

AAHomceare called on providers to support this week's concentrated advocacy effort by personally contacting their legislators and urge that they support the Senate bill and coming House legislation, as well as for a careful assessment of how the first round of cuts are affecting beneficiaries' access to DME.

To assist providers' outreach, AAHomecare has created a Take Action Plan in support of S.2736 that includes:

  • 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.

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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