Nearly 100 Lawmakers Sign Round 2021 Letter

Last-minute push for a letter calling on HHS and CMS to delay Round 2021 of competitive bidding due to ongoing COVID-19 pandemic garners signatures from 98 Representatives.

After a concerted industry push, 98 lawmakers signed their names to a House sign-on letter calling on CMS to delay implementation of Round 2021 of competitive bidding by a July 29 deadline.

The letter was attached to a bi-partisan “dear colleague” letter from Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), and called on HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CSM Administrator Seem Verma to delay implementing competitive bidding for one year or for the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, whichever lasts longer.

Once all the signatures are officially collected, the letter will be sent to Azar and Verma.

Despite a short time table and the need to coordinate with health legislative staff to get the signatures, the push garnered just shy of 100 signatures from a bipartisan collection of lawmakers from a range of states. VGM Government Relations posted a list of the lawmakers that backed the letter.

“Grassroots outreach, as well as many encouragements from the state associations, helped push this along,” a statement from VGM Government Relations read. “Thanks also go out to Rep. McMorris Rodgers and Rep. Loebsack and their staff for leading these efforts yet again.”

The effort to delay Round 2021 began with calls from the American Association for Homecare to pause the program in late March. The association and intensified that effort in June after a survey it conducted demonstrated that HME providers are experiencing strained supply chains, increased costs, and operational obstacles due to the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). Despite that marketplace upheaval, CMS is still moving forward with Round 2021 bid amounts that were developed in October 2019.

“It’s a completely different world right now,” said AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan during the signature-gather effort. “The cost structure for HME suppliers has changed tremendously, particularly on the product side, with respiratory products and the cost of personal protective equipment, and even operational requirements to safely make sure patients and staff are protected. … It’s about capacity.

“We don’t want to be taking 80 to 90 percent of suppliers out of the ability to do Medicare services come Jan. 1,” Ryan added. “This is an unprecedented time we’re in, and this program has to be paused.”

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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