AAH sets sights on ‘sideliners’

Push for bid relief includes new Congressional Accountability Project
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Friday, January 19, 2018

WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders are casting a wider net for providers to build more support for a bill that would provide relief from Medicare’s competitive bidding program.

As of Friday, providers had helped to push the number of co-sponsors for H.R. 4229 to 110.

“We’ve got a core group of providers that have advocated all along and that’s terrific,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “But we’ve also got sideliners who have let others do it and we’ve got to get them engaged. It’s a call to arms.”

AAHomecare recently launched a Congressional Accountability Project to assign providers to serve as contacts for legislators in their states. These contacts are responsible for asking for support for legislation like H.R. 4229, educating lawmakers about industry issues and, basically, stepping up when there’s a call to action.

While providers in some states are actively engaged with lawmakers, that’s not the case in others, like Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, New Mexico, Utah, Washington and the District of Columbia.

“I am reaching out to people I know in other states to say, ‘Hey, we need you or somebody you know to get assigned to these legislators,’” said Doug Coleman, chairman of the AAHomecare State Leaders Council and president of the Colorado Association for Medical Equipment Services. “This way we know that the vast majority of lawmakers are hearing the stories and the messaging so there’s a better chance (of getting H.R. 4229 passed).”

One obstacle to greater provider participation in lobbying efforts may be fear it will take too much time or they won’t know what to say, Coleman says.

“It doesn’t have to take much time and it’s not hard to tell a story and build a relationship,” he said. “We are going to try and come up with a webinar to do a little training.”

Even with Congress focused on a potential government shutdown last week, stakeholders continued their efforts to add more cosponsors to H.R. 4229 and get a bid-related interim final rule cleared by the Office of Management and Budget.

“The more support we get, that puts pressure on the Office of Management and Budget and CMS that we’ve got to fix this,” said Ryan.