Providers Urged to Submit Public Comments on ESRD Rule

As Sept. 10 deadline looms, HME associations, advocates remind providers that CMS’s proposed rule offers concrete opportunity to achieve wins for the industry.

The American Association for Homecare and VGM Government relations reminded providers that there was still time to make their voices heard by filing public comments on CMS’s recently proposed ESRD rule by the Sept. 10 deadline.

“We’re down to the home stretch in the comment period for the ESRD/DMEPOS Proposed Rule,” said AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan. “For those of you who haven’t shared your comments, there’s still time to add your voice.”

So far, VGM reports 218 comments have been submitted, but a statement from the organization urged providers to “show CMS the importance of regulation changes by blowing them away with a strong response.”

The rule, released in mid-July includes various competitive bidding changes such as lead item pricing. However, industry advocates quickly identified a number of ways the rules comes up short, hence the need to submit comments.

Additionally, there is another important reason to file comments, according to AAHomecare’s Ryan: it helps amplify the industry’s voice on Capitol Hill. This is important, he says, because it is becoming clear that while the rule indicates CMS is realizing that it needs to protect access to HME, there are still sectors in government that believe bidding is the right solution for controlling costs and any fraud or waste and is not causing programs.

Case in point, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission’s (MedPAC) released its annual report to Congress in June and recommended expanding the bidding program, and an August report to Congress from the Government Accounting Office (GAO) argued that national bidding expansion did not hurt access to HME in rural and non-bid areas.

“This input from MedPAC and the recent GAO report discounting HME sector claims of patient access issues serves as another reason why we need more stakeholders and HME providers to add their voices to the ESRD/DMEPOS Rule comments,” Ryan said. “… You have to tell your story and let CMS know that the current rates don’t work and the current bidding program needs to be fixed. We don’t have a lot of opportunities and we have a really good one right now.”

To help providers with their comments, VGM has released a set of template letters that are broken down into policy areas. Providers can copy and paste the sections that are applicable to them to generate their letters.

AAHomecare shared its full comments, which it submitted Aug. 20, as well as a summary of its comments to give providers some guidelines on top-line concerns.

Once providers have prepared their comments are ready to file, they visit regulations.gov/document?D=CMS-2018-0079-0002, click “comment now” and then follow the steps for submitting their comments. The deadline to file is 11:59 pm, Mon., Sept. 10

About the Author

David Kopf is the Editor of HME Business.

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