Bid relief update: Stakeholders move on new information

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Friday, December 15, 2017

WASHINGTON – New details have pushed to the forefront a competitive bidding-related interim final rule that’s been held up at the Office of Management and Budget since August.

“We continue to ask members who have relationships with the OMB to put calls in,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare.

The industry last week gleaned new information about the under-wraps IFR when the OMB included it in its semi-annual Unified Agenda. The OMB states: the IFR “amends the regulation to resume the transition period for items furnished from August 1, 2017, through December 31, 2018.” That’s a shorter duration than proposed in H.R. 4229, which would extend the transition period from Jan. 1, 2017, to Dec. 31, 2018.

The OMB also included a new IFR in the Unified Agenda, this one to amend the methodology for establishing single payment amounts for items furnished under the bid program.

In a double-pronged strategy, the industry continues to gather support for H.R. 4229, which has collected 94 co-sponsors in six weeks.

“We continue to talk to our champions, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and Sen. John Thune,” said Jay Witter, vice president of government relations for AAHomecare. “They are working with the committees on ways of getting this fixed. They clearly understand the timing of this issue.”

AAHomecare also continues to release tools that stakeholders can use to gather support for bid relief, most recently a white paper, “Why Urban Areas Must Help Stop Drastic Cuts to DME Items in Rural & Non-Bid Areas.” The paper outlines several key ways in which urban areas will benefit from the bill, even though it’s focus in non-bid areas.

“There’s been some questions about how this helps bid areas,” said Ryan. “This explains that. I keep talking about the domino effect of managed care plans using unsustainable bid rates and taking a deduction off of that for all areas.”

Lawmakers will likely break for the holiday recess Dec. 21 or Dec. 22. While the tax plan and a continuing resolution to fund the government are the two top items on their agenda, there are a few other “must pass” items that could provide a vehicle for H.R. 4229, including funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

“We’re doing everything we can to see if there’s an opportunity to get it passed, but (if we don’t), the bill will roll right into next year,” said Ryan. “So, when they get back, we’ll be fighting as usual.”