Industry Bills End Year on Firm Footing

Rural relief bill H.R. 4229 notches 98 co-sponsors as Congress heads home, and H.R. 3730, the CRT accessories bill, closes 2018 with 77 signatures.

Two key pieces of industry legislation continued to pick up co-sponsors right up to the moment lawmakers left Capitol Hill for the Congressional recess, putting industry advocates in a good position to advance the bills when Congress resumes work in 2018.

H.R. 4229, the Protecting Home Oxygen and Medical Equipment Access Act (http://bit.ly/2znFN0j), which provides relief for providers suffering from the expansion of competitive bidding to rural and non-bid areas, and addresses the so-called “oxygen double dip,” wrapped up 2017 with 102 co-sponsors. Providers can see if their Representative is a co-sponsor by visiting http://bit.ly/2hBxh4c.

H.R. 3730 (http://bit.ly/2DwE9t9), which would protect funding for accessories used for manual complex rehab wheelchairs from competitive bidding, ended 2018 with 77 Representatives backing it. The list of co-sponsors for that bill can be found at http://bit.ly/2BXTIMk.

“That kind of growth lets Congressional leadership know that this issue has solid support and that support is increasing,” said Don Clayback, executive director of The National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology (NCART), in a public statement. “If this week's legislative actions don't include our bill, our next opportunity will be getting included in larger bills currently scheduled for January. All options are being looked at and we will keep you updated.”

Both chambers of Congress are back in session on Jan. 3, 2018. The American Association for Homecare emphasized the importance of providers continuing to drive not only support for H.R. 4229 and H.R. 3730, but also for spreading lawmakers’ awareness and support of an Interim Final Rule (IFR) that would provide relief for national bid expansion.

The IFR, which has been sitting at the Office of Management and Budget since August, would resume the 50/50, blended fee schedule for rural and non-bid areas that was in effect during the phase-in of national bid expansion during Jan. 1, 2016 to June 30, 2016, and apply it to claims submitted between Aug. 1, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2018. It would also exclude home infusion drugs used with HME from competitive bidding.

The IFR has now been published to the OMB’s Fall Unified Agenda listing, which doesn’t change its status, but at least provides additional detail on the rule. 

About the Author

David Kopf is the Editor of HME Business.

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