House Letter Calls for H.R. 2771 Support

The letter urges lawmakers — and particularly H.R. 4229 backers — to co-sponsor legislation that would bring permanent rural relief and the elimination of the oxygen budget neutrality offset.

Reps. Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-Wash.) and Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter in the House of Representatives this week, calling on their fellow lawmakers to co-sponsor H.R. 2771.

Also known as the Protecting Home Oxygen and Medical Equipment Act of 2019, H.R. 2771 would implement permanent rural and non-bid area relief and eliminate the oxygen budget neutrality offset.

The letter, which is available at bit.ly/2mIxNmx, noted that CMS made “significant changes” to competitive bidding “to address serious access issues,” and underscored that the previous Congress’s support for H.R. 4229 was a “significant factor” in CMS’s decision to make those changes. Reps. Rogers and Loebsack called on H.R. 4229 co-sponsors still holding office in the 116th Congress to continue that support by co-sponsoring H.R. 2771.

The letter also stressed that while CMS’s Nov. 1, 2018 Final ESRD/DMEPOS Rule extended rural relief through the end of 2020, “it is unclear what CMS plans to do after 2020,” which emphasizes the need for permanent change. “While the relief in strictly rural areas was much needed, non-rural, non-competitive bidding areas did not receive any help,” the letter reads.

“From seniors to those with disabilities or chronic conditions, people across the country rely on DME to go about their daily lives — whether it’s simply to walk around without falling or to breathe normally when their lungs can no longer do it on their own,” the Rogers and Loebsack letter continues. “But this equipment cannot save lives if it isn’t available to those who need it most, especially in rural communities where we know barriers to access health care already exist, which is why we urge you to co-sponsor our bipartisan legislation, the Protecting Home Oxygen and Medical Equipment Act of 2019 (H.R. 2771).”

Provider Push

Last week, the American Association for Homecare and VGM Government Relations began an industry-wide push to get HME stakeholders to continue driving support for H.R. 2771.

A statement from AAHomecare once again underscored that, like the sign-on letter, industry advocates should be targeting H.R. 4229 supporters. H.R. 4229 garnered more than 155 co-sponsors during the 115th Congress, while H.R. 2771 has 37 co-sponsors in the 116th Congress. Moreover, there are 86 current House members who co-sponsored H.R. 4229 that haven’t signed on to H.R. 2771.

“This letter can be another tool to use in outreach to your Representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 2771 — and it should be especially helpful in efforts to recruit members who co-sponsored H.R. 4229,” a statement from AAHomecare read.   

To help providers in their advocacy efforts, AAHomecare posted an H.R. 2771 issue brief, as well as maps showing CBA, rural and regional areas by state. It also provided a list of current Representatives that co-sponsored H.R. 4229 but have yet to support H.R. 2771. Also, providers can download Reps. Rogers and Loebsack’s “Dear Colleague” letter at bit.ly/2mIxNmx.

Senate Companion

As for the status of a Senate companion bill, VGM Government Relations reported this week that work is being done to drive a Senate companion bill to H.R.2771.

“There have been many strong engagements with senators during the summer months,” a VGM statement read. “Please continue these conversations in support of a Senate companion to H.R. 2771.”

Rose Schafhauser, executive director of the Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services & Supplies (MAMES) has organized an industry reception for Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), whom VGM noted is a “strong champion of past DME legislation.” MAMES will hold that event on Oct. 9 at the Cabernet Room in Sioux Falls, S.D. A flyer for the reception is available at bit.ly/2mN7wDi.

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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