AMEPA goes west

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Members of AMEPA on July 28 wrapped up a two-week lobbying trip that took them from San Diego to Seattle--all of which are metropolitan statistical areas on the West Coast that are included in Round 2 of competitive bidding.

"We've been hammering home the fact that the program allowed inexperienced, financially bankrupt companies to win bids in Round 1 and Medicare has done nothing to change that in Round 2," said Rob Brant, AMEPA's past president. "Some of these legislators are hearing this for the first time. They had no idea they were in Round 2."

One of the offices they visited: Rep. Susan Davis, D-Calif., who signed onto the bill Aug. 1.

The in-district meetings were preceded by educational sessions for area HME providers. A few providers traveled more than 100 miles to participate, said Brant.

"These people went out of their way to learn about this program and how it's going to affect, not jut major areas, but smaller ones in Round 2," he said.

During the meetings, members presented Prof. Peter Cramton's June letter to President Obama, which was signed by 244 leading economists and expressed concerns with competitive bidding. Cramton, an outspoken critic of the program, has advocated for a redesign of the program. That raised this question from healthcare staffers: Can the program be fixed?

"The industry has already taken an across-the-board cut of 9.5%," said Brant. "If we adopt Cramton's idea, are we going to have to pay to delay it again?" 

Any kind of a pay cut is going to be a tough sell for providers, say HME stakeholders. Wayne Stanfield, executive director of NAIMES, was conducting a survey at press time asking providers if they would agree to a pay cut. Although he said the initial response has been too small for an accurate sampling, 60% of respondents so far have said "no."