AAHomecare Draws Roadmap For 2020 During Revamped Medtrade Spring Update
Association leaders shared updates on legislation, the standard written order process, payer relations and AAHomecare’s plans to add members and increase its operating budget.
- By Haley Samsel
- Mar 05, 2020
Drawing strong turnout and participation from attendees, the American Association for Homecare debuted a new format of its AAHomecare Update at the annual Medtrade Spring conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
HME Business editor David Kopf was on hand to facilitate conversation between AAHomecare leaders, including president and CEO Tom Ryan, senior vice president of policy Jay Witter, vice president of regulatory affairs Kim Brummett and vice president of payer relations Laura Williard. Rather than showcasing the HME industry’s accomplishments through a fast-paced presentation, Ryan said in a podcast interview that AAHomecare sought to increase interaction between its leadership and audience members.
During the event, he pointed to the association’s new ambassador program and engagement efforts as signs that AAHomecare is poised to accomplish its goal of growing its budget by $1 million over the next year.
“Our mission is getting much larger in scope, and we need more resources for AAHomecare if we are going to succeed,” Ryan said. “A budget of $3.5 million is not enough for the primary advocacy organization representing a $50 to 60 billion industry. A larger budget will help us fight the headwinds facing this industry, including unsustainable reimbursements.”
Witter, who leads the association’s legislative work on Capitol Hill and on the state level, highlighted AAHomecare’s work to ensure the passage of legislation protecting CRT manual accessories from competitive bidding. The association is still lobbying for two bills to provide rural and non-bid area relief as well as remove non-invasive ventilators from competitive bidding, he added.
Thanks to the expiration of Medicare “extender” legislation on May 22, the HME industry may have an opportunity to attach those measures to a larger bill. Witter noted that a “stand-alone bill rarely passes,” and pointed to the association’s success in attaching the CRT legislation to an end-of-year spending package.
The legislative environment for the HME industry has shifted dramatically since Witter joined the association, when legislative aides were concerned about “fraud” among providers and businesses. Now, many legislators can be counted on to co-sponsor bills supporting the industry.
“A decade ago, we had a much different environment on the Hill,” Witter said. “We had very few champions…I have not heard the ‘fraud’ word in years.”
Kim Brummett, vice president of regulatory affairs, addresses the Standard Written Order process during the event.
Other significant changes facing the industry include the new Standard Written Order (SWO) process, which was meant to simplify regulatory requirements for providers. Brummett called it the “largest documentation change we’ve seen in our industry,” and one that comes with its own set of complications.
“It’s not as simple as CMS thinks it is,” Brummett said. “It took us a year to figure out the 5 EO and now it’s gone.”
While the association is still waiting on answers to questions it sent to CMS and DME MACs, Brummett said she remains “pretty psyched” about the SWO process. She hopes that CMS will publish a FAQ document and an updated “required list” to help providers implement the new system.
Amid questions from the audience, Williard also discussed the association’s payer relations program and how the association’s new Payer Relations Council is working to address providers’ issues with Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and Managed Care Organizations (MCOs).
Because states receive a “bucket of money” to manage their Medicaid programs, HME providers need to be proactive and make their priorities known to state leadership, Williard said.
“We have to be sure we are at the table to help them manage that bucket of money,” Williard said. “The fear is that they will reduce reimbursement…We have an opportunity to go out and sell ourselves.”
As AAHomecare looks forward to the rest of 2020, Ryan said that the association’s mission has only gotten larger as the industry has evolved.
“The non-believers had a perception that we were just one lane in D.C.,” Ryan said. “We’ve been working on the state payor issues. We are everywhere. We are in your hometown … If you’re a non-believer, it’s our job to get you to be a believer.”
Haley Samsel is the Associate Content Editor of HME Business and Mobility Management.