AAHomecare: ‘Keep energy going’ at conference

Friday, May 8, 2015

WASHINGTON – With the HME industry’s “biggest challenge around the corner,” it’s more important than ever for providers to attend next week’s Washington Legislative Conference, AAHomecare officials say.

That challenge: CMS’s plan to roll out competitive bidding pricing nationwide on Jan. 1, 2016.

“We can’t get off the radar of Congress,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “We’re a pretty good blip on their screen right now.”

The industry scored a victory in April when the president signed into law a “doc fix” bill that included a provision requiring binding bids* and proof of licensure for future rounds of the program.

Stakeholders are working with industry champions in Congress on a bill to delay or phase in the national rollout, but it won’t be ready in time for the Hill visits during the conference, Ryan says.

“That doesn’t mean we can’t go out and prepare our members of Congress,” he said.

Attendees can use the industry’s recent victory as a pivot point to lobby against the national rollout, Ryan says.

“The pricing that’s being used today is based on a flawed system that was fixed by an act of law a month ago,” he said. “That pricing is still out there, and they want to use that pricing to expand the program.”

Other talking points during the visits will include moving up the effective date for the binding bids, reforming the audit program and creating a separate benefit for complex rehab.

In addition to conducting Hill visits, attendees will hear from Sean Cavanaugh, deputy administrator for the Center for Medicare at CMS, and several yet-to-be named members of Congress.

The conference won’t be all work and no play: AAHomecare has also scheduled an open reception on May 20 to honor Mal Mixon, the former chairman and CEO of Invacare. Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, will be on hand to give Mixon a Legislative Advocate Lifetime Achievement Award. Going forward, the association will give out its annual Legislative Advocate Award in Mixon’s honor.

AAHomecare officials expect a good turnout for the conference—as good as last year, if not better.

“The binding bids win has built up momentum,” said Beth Ludwick, senior director of communications. “People are ready to keep that energy going.”