Congressional Letters Call for Vent Relief

Providers urged to help collect lawmakers’ signatures for House and soon-to-debut Senate sign-on letters asking CMS and HHS to pull back from including non-invasive vents in competitive bidding.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A House sign-on letter is soon to be joined by a Senate companion that calling on CMS and HHS to remove non-invasive ventilators from competitive bidding Round 2021.

The Senate letter joins a House letter introduced by Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) that asks CMS and HHS to pull back from their decision to add non-invasive ventilators to the competitive bidding Round 2021.

The House letter, which can be read in full at http://bit.ly/2VUKOu3, makes the point that non-invasive vents are “highly specialized and care-intensive” devices and serve patients who, while they might be in a homecare setting, are dealing with “devastating” neuromuscular diseases such as ALS, as well as end-stage COPD and other terminal respiratory conditions.

“Congress has never specifically directed the Secretary to competitively bid ventilators, and Medicare has never attempted to bid any items within its entire DME category of devices requiring frequent and substantial servicing,” part of the letter reads. “CMS has never proposed including ventilators in the program through rulemaking and we would encourage you to solicit such input on the record before doing so. CMS recently announced plans to include non-invasive ventilators in Medicare’s competitive bidding program in a press release. We urge you to reconsider these plans.”

The House sign-on letter is one of many agenda items for providers meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill today and tomorrow as part of The American Association for Homecare’s Washington Legislative Conference. Once released, the Senate would become part of that agenda.

“I got the confirmation from the Republican this morning,” said Jay Witter, senior vice president of Public Affairs for AAHomecare. “I’m getting real-time updates on the Democratic lead as our folks are going to meetings with them. I think we can get this knocked out today.”

After seeking public comment on the idea last year, CMS and HHS revealed the decision to include non-invasive ventilators in competitive bidding when it made its initial Round 2021 announcement in early March. At the time of that announcement, AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan said the move, “will doubtless be seen as a terrifying development by patients and caregivers who critically depend on these products.”

Now that the House sign-on letter is here with the Senate letter soon to follow it, Ryan reminded all providers that they can support the effort to collect signatures for both, regardless of whether they are on Capitol Hill or at their businesses.

“Enlisting Congressional support for removing non-invasive vents from competitive bidding is critically important to industry efforts to get CMS to reconsider their decision, so please take action today,” he said.

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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