Bidding, Oxygen Reform Bill Hits House

New legislation would provide permanent rural and non-bid area relief and eliminate the oxygen budget neutrality requirement.

Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) have launched H.R. 2771, bi-partisan legislation in the House that aims to extend rural and non-bid area relief, as well as protect oxygen funding.

Dubbed the Protecting Home Oxygen & Medical Equipment Act of 2019, the bill builds on 2018’s rural relief Interim Final Rule and ESRD/DMEPOS Final Rule in three ways:

  • It permanently implements the blended, 50/50 rural relief rate after 2020.
  • It provides additional relief for non-rural, non-bid areas with 75/25 blended rate (75 percent competitive bidding rates and 25 percent unadjusted fee schedule rates).
  • It removes the budget neutrality offset for oxygen that was implemented in 2017.

“For seniors, people with disabilities, and people with chronic medical conditions, access to durable medical equipment is fundamental,”  McMorris Rodgers said. “But this equipment cannot save lives if it isn’t made available to those who need it most, especially in rural communities where we know barriers to access health care already exist.”

“Ensuring access to durable medical equipment, such as oxygen machines, can mean the difference between life and death for those with a chronic medical condition,”  Loebsack noted. “We cannot continue to slash reimbursement rates in rural areas for necessary medical equipment.”

The legislation comes as the industry is preparing to head to Washington, D.C. next week for AAHomecare’s annual Washington Legislative Conference, which will be held May 22 and 23 at the Doubletree by Hilton Crystal City.

“HME advocates did great work in raising awareness and building support for these measures in the previous Congressional session, and we need to build on that over the next few months to finish the job,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of the American Association for Homecare. “This is going to take an all-out press from every corner of our industry to make this bill a priority on Capitol Hill.”

Providers that won’t attend the conference but wishing to advocate on behalf the bill can use one of two special pages set up by AAHomecare (bit.ly/aahomecarehr2771) and VGM Government Relations (bit.ly/vgmhr2771) to locate their Representative and then send a customizable letter to that lawmaker.

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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Mon, May 20, 2019 BOBBIE HUTCHINSON

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