AAHomecare seeks competitive bidding replacement

Sunday, October 5, 2008

ARLINGTON, Va. - AAHomecare has put into motion the next phase of its battle against national competitive bidding. The association announced last week that it's creating a task force to develop an alternative to the controversial program.

Some time next year, AAHomecare will go to Capitol Hill with the alternative.

"In a short while, the country is going to be engaged in a wide-ranging discussion about healthcare reform, and you can't talk about health care without talking about Medicare," said Tyler Wilson, president of AAHomecare. "We want to be part of that discussion. We want to use it as an opportunity to question whether competitive bidding is the best pricing mechanism for this industry."

The task force will be part of AAHomecare's two-pronged approach toward competitive bidding. The other prong: Trying to work with CMS as it reshapes the program based on mandates included in the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA).

Members of the task force will come to the table with an open mind, Wilson said, but with an eye toward developing an alternative that recognizes the services that the industry provides.

"We want to go into this with no pre-conceived directions," he said. "But we also feel strongly that, for a long time, the services we provide have been shortchanged by the current pricing mechanism."

Another goal of the task force: To develop an alternative that that has "a healthy dose of political and economic reality," Wilson said.

"Whatever proposal we come up with will have to be embraced by Congress and the next administration," he said. "I'm sure it will have to be, at a minimum, budget neutral."

The task force will comprise providers and manufacturers of all sizes and types, and other industry stakeholders like state and regional associations.