Industry Bills Still Need Provider Support
Providers called on to contact lawmakers to support legislative initiatives to protect non-invasive ventilators and provide relief to non-rural, non-bid area providers.
- By David Kopf
- Jan 30, 2020
Industry advocates are urging HME providers and stakeholders to continue the grassroots effort to convince lawmakers to co-sponsor the industry's two bills currently in play, H.R. 2771 and H.R. 4945.
The two bills respectively provide rural and non-bid area relief and remove non-invasive ventilators from competitive bidding. However, the bills need providers' help in attracting lawmakers' signatures.
Currently, H.R. 2771 has only 72 co-sponsors, picking up just one lawmaker in the past week. Similarly, H.R. 4945 only gained one co-sponsor in the last week, bringing its total to 42 backers in the House.
"We urge individuals with providers, manufacturers, distributors, and other companies supporting the HME community to take action over the next few weeks to contact your representatives in the House and ask for them to co-sponsor these bills," a statement from AAHomecare read.
Supporting H.R. 2771
Named the Protecting Home Oxygen & Medical Equipment Act of 2019, H.R. 2771 does three specific things:
- 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).
- Removes the budget neutrality offset for oxygen that was implemented in 2017.
To help the providers gain more co-sponsors, The American Association for Homecare provided a list of lawmakers who co-sponsored rural relief legislation in the 115th Congress.
Supporting H.R. 4945
Known as the Safeguarding Medicare Access to Respiratory Therapy (SMART) Act of 2019, H.R. 4945 would keep non-invasive ventilators out of the competitive bidding program.
After a call for public comments drew hundreds of responses from respiratory providers, patient groups, clinicians and caregivers urging CMS not to do so, the agency added non-invasive ventilators to the list of products covered by Round 2021 of competitive bidding.
AAHomecare provided a list of Representatives who joined a sign-on letter asking CMS to reconsider adding the ventilators to competitive bidding to help identify prime co-sponsorship opportunities.
Getting More Co-Sponsors
AAHomecare emphasized that obtaining support from members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee for Medicare financing-related issues is especially important. Providers can download an Excel file with a full list of committee members, co-sponsorship status, and contact info for Legislative staff handling healthcare issues for these members here.
If a provider’s Representative is one of the 12 committee members already co-sponsoring one of these bills, the provider should ask that lawmaker to contact committee leadership to ask that the bills be considered for future omnibus legislation. (For Democrats, that is Chairman Frank Pallone, and for Republicans that is Ranking Member Greg Walden.)
Also, the association noted that face-to-face meetings can make tremendous lobbying gains. Provider advocates can make a strong impression by slating an in-district, face-to-face meeting with their House member or a staffer. The House has “in-district work periods” are scheduled for Feb. 18-21 and Mar. 16-20. Providers can obtain a 2020 Congressional schedule here.
David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.