Cures Act passes House

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives yesterday passed the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes important HME-related provisions, by a margin of 392 to 26.

The legislation would roll back a second round of Medicare reimbursement cuts that went into effect this year in non-competitive bidding areas from June 30, 2016, to Dec. 31, 2016. It would also further delay Medicare’s plan to use bidding-derived prices for accessories for complex power wheelchairs until July 1, 2017.

“This is a great first step,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “Once you have statute, it’s easier next time around to get an extension.”

The legislation also requires the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a study on the impact of the bidding program on the overall number of HME providers and the availability of home medical equipment during 2016. New data shows a decrease in PTANs and a 37% decrease in tax ID numbers for HME providers, according to AAHomecare.

While the legislation only provides temporary relief, stakeholders say it buys time for a more permanent fix under the new administration.

“While AAHomecare and other HME stakeholders advocated for a longer delay for the second phase of bidding derived cuts, this legislation marks an important step in efforts to scale back the effects of the bidding program,” said AAHomecare in a bulletin. “Both chambers of Congress, along with party and committee leadership, have recognized that the home medical equipment community in rural areas needs relief and that the bidding program requires more scrutiny.”