Stimulus Package Signed Into Law

The House passed the stimulus package, which includes various HME provisions including the extension of the 50/50 blended rate for HME in rural and non-contiguous, non-bid areas, and Pres. Trump signed the legislation into law.

After the Senate upvoted the COVID-19 stimulus package, known as the CARES Act, earlier this week, the House  approved the legislation via a voice vote yesterday, and President Trump followed up by signing the relief into law. 

The package includes various HME provisions:

  • 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.

That said there are additional policy changes that industry advocates including AAHomecare are pursuing, such as 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.

Others include

  • 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.

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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