The lead co-sponsor of a senate bill that would require HME providers to retain a $500,000 surety bond — at a cost of up to $20,000 — will reconsider that provision.
After significant feedback from the homecare community, Senator Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) set aside the surety bond provision, which was filed as an amendment to the Indian healthcare bill, until its impact on HME providers can be more closely examined.
Martinez assured the American Association for Homecare that he would work with the HME industry and reconsider the surety bond provision of the bill he introduced last week. The Medicare Fraud Prevention Act of 2008, or S. 2603, would increase the $50,000 surety bond requirement to $500,000.
The bill was introduced by Senators Martinez, John Cornyn (R-Texas), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), David Vitter (R-La.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). S. 2603 would also at least double most civil and criminal penalties for Medicare fraud and abuse.
AAHomecare said it thanked Senators Martinez and Coleman and their staffs — who discussed the issue at length with AAHomecare’s government relations staff — for responding to providers and state associations in their respective states who all expressed concern about the bond proposal.
The association also thanked Rose Schafhauser, executive director of the Midwest Association of Medical Equipment Services and Heather Allan, executive director of the Florida Association for Medical Equipment Services, who it said conveyed the concerns of their members to the Senate offices.
“I strongly support the intent of Senator Martinez’s Medicare Fraud Prevention Act,” said Coleman in a prepared statement. “However, I also recognize the burdens this legislation may place on small Medicare providers, who have displayed a longstanding commitment to the beneficiaries they serve and the integrity of the Medicare program. Rest assured I will continue to work with these providers, my colleagues in the Senate and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to improve this legislation, and find a balance between reducing waste, fraud and abuse and protecting reputable health care providers.”