Heartland Speakers: Providers Must Comment on IFR

In addition to limited rural relief, the IFR provides a platform for public comments, which industry advocates are calling on providers to post by July 9.

Industry advocates are urging HME providers to submit comments on CMS’s recently released Interim Final Rule by July 9, to provide “critical” help for industry legislative and regulatory efforts.

The main thrust of CMS’s recently released IFR was to provide limited relief for rural providers and non-bid area providers in Hawaii, Alaska and U.S. territories (but not non-bid providers in the contiguous states) from the application of bidding-derived reimbursement rates. However, the IFR also provided an opportunity for public comments, and that opportunity is one providers should not skip, according to John Gallagher, vice president of Government Relations for VGM.

“This is so critical,” Gallagher told attendees of this week’s VGM Heartland event. “… If you read the IFR, [CMS] referred to public comments all the time. And if they don’t get any comments, guess what? There is nothing for them to relate policy to. … Please, take time to participate in the comment period. Reach out to people and ask them, ‘Hey, did you send in a comment on the IFR?’ We need to push this hard.”

Providers have until 5 p.m. Eastern Time on July 9 to submit comments on the IFR at regulations.gov  (they should make sure to refer to file code CMS-1687-IFC).

Additionally, Gallagher and Jay Witter, senior vice president of Public Affairs for the American Association for Homecare, noted in the Heartland presentation that both VGM and AAHomecare have and information providers can use in their comments as well as comment templates at vgmdclink.com and aahomecare.org, respectively.

“Anything we can do to make [submitting comments] easier, we will, because it does make a true impact,” Witter noted.

About the Author

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


Fri, Jun 29, 2018 Dale Benzine Woodstock

I have been involved in one way or another (primarily as an owner ) in the DME /RT business for over 30 years... and now currently own 3 rural locations in NW and W GA. We are dying out here...our patients are badly in need of our services and we are one of very few independent dealers left to service this area (you can forget about Lincare, Apria ,etc.. they just tell the referral source or patient that the products are back ordered and they cant get to them within the next week or two... ) The current IFR ruling is like kissing your sister...short , sweet but highly inadequate for our long term survival. The other rural dealers I speak to all talk about closing their businesses if something is done soon and permanently to address these unsustainable reimbursement rates for the rural areas...Yes this is a matter of business life or death so please please consider the following permanent rule changes so we can continue to serve our rural area and patients..thank you -longer-term relief for suppliers in rural and non-contiguous (i.e., Alaska & Hawaii) areas beyond the seven months of relief provided in the IFR; -similar relief for suppliers in other non-bid areas that are not designated as rural areas; and -addressing the oxygen “double dip” cuts caused by an outdated 2006 budget neutrality offset that has pushed oxygen reimbursement rates in rural areas even below competitive bidding rates.

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