ACA decision and NCB and MPP

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

WASHINGTON – It was probably a long shot, anyway, but stakeholders now know for sure that the U.S. Supreme Court won’t save them from an expansion of competitive bidding or several other HME-related provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

To much fanfare, the court this morning upheld the ACA with Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. siding with the court’s more liberal members in a 5-4 vote.

“People were hoping these provisions were going to go away, but the bulk of the law will remain intact,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare.

The ACA contains a provision to include an additional 21 areas in Round 2 of competitive bidding. Other HME-related provisions in the act: a 2.3% tax on medical devices and a 13-month capped rental period for standard power wheelchairs.

No sooner had the court made its decision, however, than Republicans like John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives, were saying that the real decision on the ACA would come in this November’s elections.

“Fixing this law will now require Congress to act and that will, of course, depend on the federal elections this fall,” said Jim Walsh, corporate counsel for The VGM Group.

So as the industry tries to move forward with its market-pricing program (MPP) to replace competitive bidding, it will have to both compete with and play off of these continuing and divisive conversations about healthcare reform, stakeholders say.

“It is clear that the partisanship over health care and Medicare will continue into and beyond the fall elections,” said Walt Gorski, vice president of government affairs for AAHomecare. “We will be working to enact MPP into law as Congress addresses these issues later this year.”

In the meantime, stakeholders expect those affected by the ACA to start taking action. States will form health exchanges. Certain businesses will determine whether to offer their employees a certain level of health benefits or pay a penalty per employee.

“There are some issues that people were just waiting for the court to strike down and now that the law is a reality, they’re thinking, ‘Now what do we do?’” Bachenheimer said. “It’s a big deal.”