Clock is Ticking to Recruit HR 4229 Co-Sponsors

Providers have until Dec. 14 to garner more co-sponsors for the Protecting HOME Access Act.

Congress has returned from its Thanksgiving break, but Representatives are only in Washington until Dec. 14, giving providers a short window of time to push for more H.R. 4229 co-sponsors.

“With that tight timetable and a wealth of other pressing business on Capitol Hill, it’s critical that the HME community make a concerted effort in the coming week to ask your legislators to sign on to H.R. 4229,” read a statement from the American Association for Homecare calling for providers to join the effort. “If you have not yet contacted your legislators, please contact their office in the coming week to ask that they co-sponsor H.R. 4229, the Protecting Home Oxygen and Medical Equipment Access Act.”

Introduced by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), H.R. 4229 (http://bit.ly/2znFN0j) provides relief for providers suffering from the expansion of competitive bidding to rural and non-bid areas, as well as address the so-called “oxygen double dip.”

At present the bill has signatures from 81 lawmakers. Providers can see if their Representative is a co-sponsor by visiting http://bit.ly/2hBxh4c.

The association suggested the following bullet points as arguments providers can make to lawmakers and their legislative staff when calling on behalf of the bill:

  • Rural HME companies in rural communities are struggling to maintain their service levels and provide a range of quality products under an unsustainable pricing model, which does not account for the additional cost and staff time required to serve patients spread over less densely populated areas.  
  • Rolling back a portion of 2016’s drastic cuts for suppliers not in competitive bidding areas — which were as stiff as 50 percent or more for many commonly used product categories — would allow HME providers to continue to serve patients in these communities, which includes seniors, people with disabilities, and individuals with chronic conditions.
  • The legislation would fix rate cuts for rural oxygen providers caused by an outdated 2006 budget neutrality offset that is causing rates to go even lower than competitive bidding rates in many cases.

“Direct contact with your legislators or their staff truly make a difference in raising awareness and getting more co-sponsors on board,” the AAHomecare statement added. “Please keep the pressure on as we enter the final weeks of 2017!”

Full text of the legislative language is available as a PDF at http://bit.ly/2gZ5rOD and the bill can be monitored on the Library of Congress site at http://bit.ly/2znFN0j.

Providers lobbying their lawmakers on behalf of the bill can obtain issue briefs on rural reimbursement relief at http://bit.ly/2AbhAsh and the O2 “double dip” cuts at http://bit.ly/2z9rdtI. If they need additional help contacting their lawmakers, such as contact information for Representatives’ healthcare legislative assistants, they can reach AAHomecare’s Gordon Barnes at gordonb@aahomecare.org.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Editor of HME Business.

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