Industry Calls for Lame Duck Action

AAHomecare urged providers to lobby their lawmakers to back rural relief. Concentrated effort will focus on next week.

As Congress makes ready to dive into its lame duck session in the waning days of the 114th Congress and the Obama Administration, HME industry advocates are calling on HME providers to help in its final legislative push before Congress and the Executive change hands. 

The American Association for Homecare noted that the compressed, final legislative session occurring between Nov. 14 and Dec. 16 doesn’t give providers much time to get things done.

“With a week’s recess planned for Thanksgiving and a looming Dec. 9 deadline to pass legislation to raise the debt ceiling and keep the government funded, we need to make a strong impression on Capitol Hill starting next week,” a statement from the association read.

The association called on providers to drive home several key message points:

  • The House and Senate must pass legislation to roll back the national bidding expansion cuts so that lawmakers and policy experts can examine and rectify the effects the cuts are having on HME providers and patients.
  • The bid expansion cuts that were fully implemented on July 1 cut reimbursement rates by more than 50 percent for commonly used HME. The cuts are unsustainable for rural HME providers, which are key healthcare entities in small, rural areas that lack the same kinds of healthcare infrastructure found in more urban areas. 
  • The cuts are impacting other programs, such as TRICARE and managed care organizations, which are basing their reimbursement on the now-cut Medicare rates. The sizable cuts are disrupting providers ability to care for patients under those programs.

AAHomecare recommended that the most effective way for providers to drive home their messages was to call their Representative and Senators; ask to speak with their legislative staff member who specializes in healthcare issues; communicate the above items; and call on them to address the issue during the lame duck session. AAHomecare recommended  following up the call with an email.

The association also suggested providers determine if their legislators were co-sponsors of either S.2736 or H.R. 5210, and if so, to thank them for their support and call on them to work together on bicameral legislation during the lame duck that could be presented to President Obama before the end of the lame duck session.

Providers can reach their lawmakers via the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and can get additional contact information via AAHomecare’s Congressional directory at http://action.aahomecare.org/congress/.
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