Senate Likely to Approve Compromise Rural Relief

The Senate has put its version of the recently approved House rural relief bill on ‘hotline,’ which is typically a fast track to approval.

In what will be a last-minute finish before the House and Senate recess for the summer at the close of Friday, the Senate looked like to approve a version of the rural relief legislation that the House approved last week.

Passing the legislation has not an easy journey, and the industry had been working under a July 1 deadline, which was the date for CMS to implement the full cuts of national bid expansion. While that deadline came and went, the industry continued working in the hopes of getting a reform "retroactively" passed before the July 15 recess that would essentially delay the July 1 rate implementation going forward.

While the Senate approved its own version of the Patient Access to Durable Medical Equipment Act of 2016 in late June, the House version of PADME differed on some points, the most central being that the House legislation delayed implementation of the full bid expansion cuts until Sept. 30, and the Senate version delayed the cuts until July 1, 2017. In addition to the Sept. 30 delay, the amended House version would also:

  • Instruct the Dept. of Health and Human Services to study the impact of bidding-derived payment adjustments on suppliers and beneficiary access by September (the exact date as not specified). 
  • Include other non-HME-specific Medicare- and Medicare-related bills that have previously passed the House, as well as other unrelated items as noted in a bill summary available at bit.ly/29EOK8o.

The House and Senate must approve the same legislation in order to place it in front of the President for executive approval before the two chambers break for the summer. So the industry has been scrambling to ensure that happens.

Bearing that in mind, the revised bill was placed on the Senate’s “hotline” process yesterday. When a bill is hotlined, it means the bill is non-controversial and is considered automatically approved unless there is considerable objection. Senators have 24 hours to object to the legislation, otherwise it is considered passed.

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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