AAHomecare: Time to Turn up the Heat

Association underscores need for stakeholder support regarding legislative items such as protecting non-invasive ventilators and non-bid area relief.

The American Association for Homecare called on HME stakeholders to increase the intensity of their advocacy efforts on behalf of two key pieces of industry legislation.

Specifically, providers need to concentrate on urging lawmakers to become co-sponsors of H.R. 2771 and H.R. 4945.

Launched by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), H.R. 2771 is bipartisan legislation 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 would:

Permanently implement the blended, 50/50 rural relief rate after 2020.
Provides additional relief for non-rural, non-bid areas with a 75/25 blended rate (75 percent competitive bidding rates and 25 percent unadjusted fee schedule rates).
Remove the budget neutrality offset for oxygen that was implemented in 2017.

Currently, H.R. 2771 has 71 co-sponsors. To help the push, AAHomecare provided a list of lawmakers who co-sponsored rural relief legislation in the 115th Congress but are not yet co-sponsoring HR 2771.

Dubbed the SMART Act of 2019, H.R. 4945 has a very specific, singular mission: it would keep non-invasive ventilators out of the competitive bidding program. Despite hundreds of public comments from respiratory providers, patient groups, clinicians and caregivers urging CMS not to do so, the agency decided to add non-invasive ventilators to the list of products covered by its recently announced Round 2021 of competitive bidding. This has exposed a very vulnerable patient group to potential access problems.

Currently, H.R. 4995 is at 41 co-sponsors. AAHomecare provided a list of Representatives who joined a sign-on letter asking CMS to reconsider plans to add NIV to the C.B. program but have not yet co-sponsored for best targets.

“It’s critical that we raise the co-sponsor rolls on H.R. 2771 and H.R. 4945 to improve our chances at seeing provisions from these bills included in an omnibus legislative package,” said AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan. “Stronger co-sponsorship on these bills can also help bring Congressional pressure on CMS to change course in potential additional regulations on Round 2021 – just as similar Congressional interest helped convince CMS to provide measures of relief for providers in rural areas and other non-bid areas in 2018.”

The association emphasized providers should make personal contact. If a representative isn’t on the bills, AAHomecare called on represented providers to email their offices and follow up with a call to the healthcare staffer.

“If that doesn’t result in a legislator signing on within two weeks, it’s time to call again and request an in-district meeting — and to recruit other individuals in your area to also make contact,” Ryan said. “We need repeated contact until we get an agreement to co-sponsor – or a ‘no.’”

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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