Providers Urged to Advocate for HME Bills

A pending government funding bill offers opportunity to include language from four pieces of industry legislation. AAHomecare’s Tom Ryan says a provider push for co-sponsors before Dec. 20 is “critical.”

“It’s critical that we build on earlier efforts and get co-sponsors on these current bills,” AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan told HME Business. “That is the most important thing we can do to help our champions make the case for including provisions from these bills in larger legislative packages.”

While the winter holiday break is coming up, it’s no time to relax industry advocacy efforts. Congress has until Dec. 20 to avoid another government “shutdown,” and the Federal budget package that would prevent that offers “significant opportunities” to include provisions from current industry bills in its language, according to the American Association for Homecare.

 

So, the association is urging HME providers and other industry stakeholders to reach out to House and Senate lawmakers to co-sponsor the following bills:

  • H.R. 4945, the SMART Act of 2019, which would keep non-invasive ventilators out of the competitive bidding program. Currently, this has 25 co-sponsors. To help target the co-sponsorship drive for this bill, AAHomecare has provided an updated list of Representatives who joined the recent Congressional sign-on letter asking HHS and CMS to reverse the plan to add those devices to competitive bidding program. 
  • H.R. 2771, the Protecting HOME Access Act of 2019, which would provide relief for non-bid areas that are not rural, as well as a fix for oxygen reimbursement in rural areas. Currently this has 64 co-sponsors. AAHomecare has posted a list of lawmakers that backed rural relief legislation in the last (115th) Congress but haven’t yet sponsored H.R. 2771 to focus the co-sponsorship drive.
  • H.R. 2293 and S.1223, the Protecting Access to Wheelchairs Act of 2019, which would protect accessories for manual CRT wheelchairs from competitive bidding cuts. The House bill has 28 co-sponsors and the Senate bill has 11 co-sponsors.
  • H.R. 2408, the Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act of 2019, which would take CRT out of Medicare DMEPOS and make it an entirely separate benefit. This currently has 34 co-sponsors.

“We’ve done a great job raising Congressional interest and awareness on our issues over the last few years, but we have to keep growing support for these current bills to have a chance at getting our priorities addressed in a budget package or other omnibus legislation,” Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare, told HME Business. “We need a strong grassroots effort from every quarter of the HME community to make this happen. Whether your legislator is a Democrat or Republican, whether they’ve been a supporter in the past or not — if they’re not currently co-sponsoring one of these bills, we need constituents to get on the phone and ask them to sign on.”

While providers reach out to lawmakers, AAHomecare reports it is working with House and Senate lawmakers who have introduced legislation and supportive lawmakers sitting on key committees of jurisdiction, as well as Congressional staff, to include the industry’s legislative agenda in a government funding bill or other piece of omnibus legislation. But the co-sponsorship drive by providers and similar stakeholders is an essential element of the strategy.

“We know there’s strong Congressional interest in these legislative priorities thanks to the support we’ve had on similar legislation in the last Congress, as well as the June sign-on letter on non-invasive ventilators in competitive bidding,” he told HMEB. “It’s critical that we build on those earlier efforts and get co-sponsors on these current bills.  That is the most important thing we can do to help our champions make the case for including provisions from these bills in larger legislative packages.”

Additional advocacy resources can be found at AAHomecare’s online Take Action Center.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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