Washington Conference Engages Lawmakers from 40 States
AAHomecare’s first-ever virtual version of the event involved 140 HME advocates who met with more than 220 Congressional offices on various industry issues, with insufficient Medicare rates that don’t match providers’ costs topping the list.
The American Association for Homecare hosted the first-ever virtual version of its annual Washington Conference lobbying event on Sept. 29 and was able to meet with lawmakers and staff representing 40 states.
In total, the event attracted 140 HME advocates who met with more than 220 Congressional offices to discuss HME issues, with the top priority being the need to address Medicare reimbursement rates that don’t reflect the rising supply and operational costs impacting DMEPOS suppliers.
House Sign-on Letter
Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) helped to boost that reimbursement argument by releasing a Congressional sign-on letter asking HHS and CMS to release the DME Rule, extend 50/50 blended rates in rural areas, and address outdated Medicare rates for most products in former CB areas the day before the conference.
“Conference attendees showed impressive flexibility by making the sign-on letter a priority in their meetings on short notice and securing commitments from legislators,” a statement from AAHomecare noted. “We appreciate the strong participation from all segments in the HME industry in the conference. Constituents directly engaging legislators and Congressional staff, explaining the challenges they face, and asking for their support is critical to moving the needle on our policy priorities.”
A Successful Effort
Kam Yuricich, executive director for OAMES and the Great Lakes Association, said she valued connecting with the Washington Congressional offices to emphasize the incredible efforts HME providers are making despite the challenges facing them.
“I sensed Hill staff had a more keen understanding and appreciation for HME services and homecare recognizing the front-line role our providers are playing in the public health emergency and the need to ensure products and services remain available to patients,” she said. “Access will only be preserved by attaining sustainable Medicare rates and investing long-term in home-based care, and we’re optimistic we’re positioned to achieve these critical objectives.”
“The 2021 virtual Washington legislative conference was a huge success,” added Ginny Cate, vice president of Managed Care Field Operations for Apria. “I was able to meet with the Health Care Policy staff for all of my legislators in New Hampshire and was impressed with the level of preparation, engagement and commitment to carry our ‘plea’ forward to the respective Representatives and Senators.
To see issue briefs and other documents attendees shared with legislators, click here.
Providers Urged to Support Sign-on Letter
AAHomecare called on providers to ask their House Representative to add his or her name to the sign-on letter on the DME Rule and Medicare reimbursement policy. The most effective way to do this is to send a link to the sign-on letter to the staffer who handles healthcare issues for that Representative and ask that they join the letter by Tuesday, Oct. 5.
Providers can encourage their peers to use AAHomecare’s Action Center to send a pre-written email on the letter.