Industry Dives into August Advocacy Push

Congressional recess gives HME stakeholders a prime opportunity to discuss changes to CMS’s proposed ESRD rule, as well as broader bidding reforms.

Industry advocates have kicked off the “August of Action” push to advance several industry objectives now that Congress will be in recess.

The Senate will recess Aug. 6 through Sept.3, and the House will recess Aug. 1 through Sept. 3, during which time those lawmakers and their staff will return to their home states and districts.

“With the House currently on recess until after Labor Day (and the Senate set to join them later next week), the HME community can make a strong impression on their legislators via district-office meetings and at public events,” a statement from the American Association for Homecareread. “Our industry secured some important gains in the recently-released ESRD/DMEPOS proposed rule, and we have an opportunity to thank legislators who have been supportive on our issues for their efforts so far while also reinforcing that additional relief is needed.”

“In order to have the most success with changing Medicare policies in the fall, we need your help to build relationships with these members,” a statement from VGM Government Relationsread. “We need to keep the conversation going about H.R. 4229, the IFR, competitive bidding, and other important issues to protect providers’ ability to care for their patients.”

Some key objectives for the advocacy effort:

• The latest competitive bidding contracts are coming to a close and CMS has yet to determine when the next bidding round will take place. Starting in January, all suppliers in competitive bid areas will be able to provide home medical equipment until CMS comes up with a plan. AAHomecare noted that the current rates used in those bidding areas are unsustainable and providers should ask lawmakers to impress upcoming CMS that those rates should be adjusted upwards during the interim period before the next bidding round in the Final Rule.

• CMS’s proposed ESRD/DMEPOS Rule provides some rural relief, but does not address drastic reimbursement cuts for providers in contiguous non-bid areas. Lawmakers have agreed that those providers also need relief and an objective for the August advocacy push should be for lawmakers to urges CMS to extend rural relief to those providers. 

• CMS has stated that it does not have the authority to address the application of a 2006 budget neutrality offset on oxygen equipment that has created unsustainable reimbursement for some oxygen products. Here, too, providers can ask members of Congress to adjust oxygen reimbursement policy in the next healthcare legislative vehicle.

AAHomecare has uploaded a scorecard that shows how legislators have supported industry-backed initiatives such as September’s sign-on letter to OMB, March’s sign-on letter to House Appropriations Committee leaders , and co-sponsorship of H.R. 4229 and H.R. 3730.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Editor of HME Business.

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