Congress Leaves Hill with Bid Reform Unresolved

As lawmakers focus on election season, national bid expansion continues to impact rural providers, patients; HME advocates set sights on lame duck session.

While the industry had hoped it might make progress in a third attempt during the September legislative sessions to advance legislative reforms to national bid expansion that would protect rural providers and patients, lawmakers have left the issue unresolved and have recessed in order to focus on their reelection campaigns.

The industry had identified September as a key opportunity to continue pushing rural bid relief. Moreover, various Senate champions affirmed in late July that they would help the industry advance a post-implementation delay to the July 1 national bidding expansion cuts during September.

However, the industry was aware that the window of opportunity would be small. The industry had only 19 days when Congress returned for the September session before lawmakers would recess again. Moreover, House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) calendar indicated that Mondays and Fridays will often be shortened workdays.

This means the industry will now have to wait until after the elections to work with Congress in hopes of reforming bid expansion.

“Congress has left town and this is still not fixed,” Said AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan in an online statement.  “We need it fixed in Lame Duck.”

The delay will only further compound the ripple effect that is being felt due to the July 1 cuts. For instance, it quickly became apparent over the summer that programs such as TRICARE, which many providers were using to buttress their funding, were now implementing harsh new cuts in the wake the July 1 DMEPOS rate cuts.

That prompted Brigham McCown, a retired federal senior executive and military officer who writes on public policy, to chide lawmakers who ran on campaigns pledging support for members of the military for failing to do so in “Empty Campaign Promises Hurt Military Families’ Quality Of Health Care,” an opinion piece for website The Daily Caller.

“These unrealistic reimbursement rates have been catastrophic for many home medical equipment providers who serve our military under the TRICARE program, and many of them are either reducing their product lines or opting out of TRICARE altogether,” McCown wrote. “… At a time when partisan bickering and gridlock dominate Capitol Hill, this is one issue where Members of Congress from both parties can come together. In doing so, they can save local businesses, protect jobs, and – most importantly – ensure quality of care for our seniors and people with disabilities in rural communities, as well as military families. It would be the right thing to do and would prove to be good public policy.”

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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