IFR Increases Rural Rates for 7 Months

Blended, 50/50 rate schedule for rural and limited non-bid areas resumes, running June 1 through Dec. 31.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has issued an interim final rule that would resume the 50/50 blended rate schedule for rural and some non-bid areas.

The IFR will resume those rates starting from June 1 through Dec. 31 and will affect rural areas and non-contiguous areas (Alaska, Hawaii and U.S. territories) that are non-bid areas. The full text of the IFR can be read here.

The new rates will help rural providers keep their doors open to patients, noted Tom Ryan, president and CEO of the American Association for Homecare, who expressed gratitude for the relief, but added that more needed to be done.

“Today’s action provides substantial and much-needed relief HME suppliers in rural areas — and also for patients, caregivers and clinical professionals in small communities nationwide,” Ryan said. “We are, however, very disappointed that the relief does not extend to non-bid areas that are not ‘rural’ or ‘non-contiguous’ (e.g., HI, AL). We strongly believe that more extensive relief is needed, this same relief should have been applied to the rest of the non-bid areas.

“This omission of other non-bid areas stands in stark contrast to consistent Congressional intent to extend relief for all non-bid areas expressed in both the 2016 Cures law and other outreach to the Administration,” he added.

Bearing that in mind, Ryan said AAHomecare would continue to work with the administration and lawmakers to see the relief applied to providers in all non-bid areas.

“We also believe that some measure of retroactive relief, as proposed in H.R. 4229 remains warranted, and we also need to address the uncertainty on these rates beyond 2018,” he said. “I believe their strong outreach to CMS and OMB, as well as the conference report language in the recent Omnibus bill encouraging the Administration to release the IFR, played a major part in getting this relief. We need to continue to engage our legislators to let them know that the job isn’t finished.

“This IFR is the culmination of a determined campaign by HME stakeholders to get relief for rural suppliers that stretches back over more than two years,” Ryan continued, “There is more work to be done, and I hope I can count on the HME community’s continued passion and persistence to build on this measure of relief.”

AAHomecare reported it will provide additional analysis on the IFR and its potential impacts on other payer segments in coming days.

For more information, see CMS’s press release and fact sheet.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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