Congressional Letter Calls for DME, CRT Reforms

Authored by bi-partisan group of lawmakers, letter asks HHS’s Price and CMS’s Verma for key four reforms that would protect providers, patients.

A bipartisan collection of House Representatives have co-authored a congressional sign-on letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and CMS Administrator Seema Verma calling for policy reforms to protect DME and CRT benefits.

Penned by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) the letter (available as a PDF from The VGM Group Inc.) identifies four key reforms:
  • Base the blended, 50/50 rate in rural and non-bid areas on the Jan. 1, 2016 pricing, rather than the July 1, 2016 pricing, and extend that pricing structure into 2019.
  • Use the formal rulemaking process to reform competitive bidding to fix a number of flaws in the program.
  • Bring a complete stop the competitive bidding-derived cuts to complex rehab wheelchair accessories, the implementation or which is currently only delayed until July 1.
  • Stop applying a budget neutrality offset to reimbursement for oxygen concentrators in rural and non-bid areas, which was reduced funding for those items to rates below that of competitive bidding rates (the so-called oxygen “double dip”).

“CMS has continued to implement further reductions with very little regard to the input from providers and the intent of Congress,” said John Gallagher, vice president of Government Relations for VGM. “The reforms outlined in this letter would provide great relief for providers who are struggling to provide care to their patients and must be implemented immediately.”

Both The VGM Group and the American Association for Homecare are urging providers to reach out to their Representatives in the House and urge them to sign the letter. AAHomecare added that encouraging lawmakers to sign the letter will be one providers' objectives at next week's Washington Conference. Rogers’ letter will play a key role in pressuring CMS to adopt the reforms, according to Gallagher.

“The congressional offices are looking to get broad bipartisan support from their fellow representatives, which is where the industry can play a huge role,” he said. “It is imperative to gather as many supporters as possible to show the urgency of these reforms.”

Providers can find additional information and tools for sending messages to their Representatives at online Action Centers from VGM and from AAHomecare.  

About the Author

David Kopf is the Editor of HME Business.

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