The HME-related provisions in the House-passed legislation to reauthorize the state children’s medical insurance program (S-CHIP) have yet to achieve visibility outside the industry. Nevertheless, House-Senate conferees are about to sit down to iron out differences between the two bills.
The House legislation includes wide-ranging Medicare-reform provisions, including the infamous 18-month oxygen-rental cap and a change that would effectively force patients to rent rather than purchase their power chairs. While these provisions could have far-reaching negative consequences for Medicare beneficiaries and DME providers, they are overshadowed by the bill’s many other politically controversial sections of the bill.
The Senate bill contains no Medicare provisions.
While House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) reaffirmed last week that he’s going into the conference committee with a strong preference for preserving the Medicare provisions. Reportedly, Rangel has the support of Speaker Pelosi, who was expected to discuss the House Democratic leadership’s position with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in an effort to ease the way for a compromise.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told Congress Daily last week that his colleagues “feel very strongly that the package works together for a lot of objectives that we all should be able to agree on. We worked very hard on a lot of component parts that all work together.”
If House and Senate Democrats succeed in hanging on to their Medicare-expanding changes, the odds are good that the president will veto the bill. A date has not been set for the conference committee to meet.