The clock is ticking on accessories bills

Friday, September 9, 2016

WASHINGTON – With lawmakers now back on Capitol Hill, the stakes are higher than ever for stakeholders to get complex rehab legislation passed before the end of the year.

At press time, H.R. 3229 and S. 2196, bills that would permanently protect complex rehab accessories from competitive bidding pricing, have 143 and 24 co-sponsors, respectively.

“Congress ends at the end of this calendar year, so anything that is not passed this year would have to be reintroduced next year,” said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products. “But we’re hearing from our champions that we’re in a very good position.”

Late last year, Congress passed a bill, stopping CMS from applying bid pricing to complex rehab accessories for one year, until Jan. 1, 2017.

Stakeholders were buoyed by a recent update to a Government Accountability Office report, originally published June 1, that shows Medicare would save only about $19 million per year by applying bid pricing to complex rehab accessories.

“That’s another question that’s been answered that puts the legislation on a solid consideration for passage,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART. “Congress has requested a CBO score, but I think the GAO report will help them get a sense of what the potential score would be because the CBO should be working with the same information that the GAO used to update their report.”

While nothing has been set in stone, there are a few potential legislative vehicles for the bills, including spending bills that must be approved by Sept. 30 to prevent a government shutdown and the 21st Century Cures Act.

“Our champions have told us they believe there will be opportunities to get this thing fixed this year,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. “We have a Dec. 31 deadline so Congress usually acts when their backs are up against a wall and I predict that exactly what’s going to happen again this year. If we’re successful, it’s going to happen at the 11th hour.”