Clock ticks on MPP, Round 2

Friday, December 14, 2012

WASHINGTON – The HME industry is within spitting distance of its goal of 100 co-sponsors for H.R. 6490, a bill to replace the competitive bidding program with a market-pricing program (MPP).

The latest count: 80 co-sponsors, with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle signing on. Stakeholders say that number is likely to increase in the coming weeks.

“Victory brings victory,” said Walt Gorski, vice president of government affairs for AAHomecare. “The more co-sponsors you get, the easier it gets to add even more co-sponsors.”

Stakeholders believe the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., needs at least 100 co-sponsors to move H.R. 6490 out of committee and attach it to a larger piece of legislation before the end of the year.

There’s a little extra time do get those co-sponsors. Friday, Dec. 14, should have been the final day of the 112th Congress, but with lawmakers still trying to hammer out a deal on the “fiscal cliff,” they’ll be back at work again Monday, Dec. 17.

“It’s my opinion that we need to get some indication of something moving on MPP by the end of week (Dec. 21),” said Wayne Stanfield, president of NAIMES. “My guess is the week after Christmas, those two or three days are going to be wrapped up with fiscal cliff issues.”

While the focus remains on getting MPP passed this year, it’s also time to start looking ahead, says Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products.

“We continue to talk about MPP and the need to include that in year-end legislation—if not year-end, then the first legislative opportunity next year,” he said.

Meanwhile, it’s looking more and more likely that CMS will miss its own deadline for releasing the single payment amounts for Round 2 by Dec. 20, the last day of fall.

“I would not be surprised if it goes in to the New Year,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. “There isn’t a lot of time.”