‘AAHomecare has your back’

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

OCCC – Things may be a mess on Capitol Hill, but the HME industry continues to win small victories in the fight against competitive bidding, AAHomecare officials told Medtrade attendees during a Washington Update on Tuesday.

Case in point: AAHomecare has had great dialogue with the Office of Inspector General (OIG) about concerns that CMS has awarded contracts to providers that didn’t meet licensure requirements in four states.

“We had to convince them that we were worthy of a meeting,” said Kim Brummett, senior director of regulatory affairs for AAHomecare. “We had about 12 folks from the OIG on the phone.”

After the call, the OIG sent a follow-up email, saying the information they received was valuable and that they planned to share it with CMS.

Also working in the industry’s favor: the more than 2,000 complaints about competitive bidding to a hotline hosted by People for Quality Care.

“(CMS) has the gall to tell Congress that they’ve received few complaints,” said Jay Witter, vice president of government affairs for AAHomecare. “This is a brand new system with seniors and they’re only getting 33 complaints? They should win a Nobel prize for economics.”

It will only get harder for the industry to rise above the din on the Hill, however, if Congress fails to prevent the country from hitting the debt limit on Oct. 17.

“Funding (to Medicare) will continue even though the government is shut down,” Witter said. “But hitting the debt limit is going to affect Medicare. The government’s going to have to make choices—do we pay Medicare services or do we pay our debt?”

The industry’s recent progress serves as a rallying cry for ratcheting up advocacy efforts.

“Come on, wake up—you want someone who has your back? AAHomecare has your back,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of the association. “I have your back. I want to make sure every provider can survive.”