Senate Upvotes Stimulus Package — With HME Provisions
Bill includes an extension of the 50/50 blended rate for HME in rural and non-contiguous, non-bid areas, and temporarily eliminates the 2 percent Medicare sequester reduction, and eliminates some telehealth requirements.
- By David Kopf
- Mar 26, 2020
In a 96-0 vote, the Senate passed the COVID-19 stimulus package, which contains various provisions related to HME. The House is expected to expedite voting on the $2 trillion relief bill on Friday.
HME provisions in the package include:
- An extension of the 50/50 blended rate for rural suppliers through the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE),
- It also provides better rates (a blend using 75 percent current adjusted rates and 25 percent unadjusted rates) for suppliers in non-rural, non-bid areas during that period.
- Those rates are retroactive to March 6.
- An elimination of the 2 percent Medicare sequester reduction that went into effect in 2013. This relief will be effective May 1 to Dec. 31.
- An elimination of the three-year established patient relationship requirement from the telehealth provisions in earlier COVID-19 relief legislation.
The American Association for Homecare posted the full text of the package at bit.ly/2WLHKPX.
In terms of the time frame for the relief, AAHomecare noted that while the duration of the COVID-19 PHE is unpredictable, previous PHEs for Zika and H1N1 outbreaks lasted for 360 and 450 days, respectively.
“These measures provide welcome support for the HME community as we serve patients impacted by COVID-19 and work to reduce the extraordinary burdens this outbreak is putting on hospitals and healthcare professionals nationwide,” AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan said. “This legislation is a great step forward, but there are still numerous policy changes we’re seeking that will protect patients and HME professionals alike while also allowing our industry to make the strongest possible contribution to overcoming this pandemic.”
Those additional provisions include a one-year delay of competitive bidding Round 2021 implementation so that HME businesses can provide ready access to patients needing home oxygen therapy devices and services, as well as home ventilators.
- Waiving the chronic respiratory disease coverage requirements for respiratory equipment, medications, and supplies when a patient is diagnosed with COVID-19 or has other acute respiratory conditions during this pandemic.
- Relaxing documentation requirements so that the standard written order is the only documentation needed during the pandemic.
- Including suppliers providing services to COVID-19 patients in their homes among priority groups for personal protective equipment.
Read more about the various changes the industry is calling CMS to make at bit.ly/2Jozcq9.
“AAHomecare is working closely with other stakeholders in our industry to engage with CMS, state health officials and Medicaid authorities, and major third-party payers on these issues,” Ryan added.
David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.