Election recap: Big changes but all's not lost for HME

Thursday, November 4, 2010

WASHINGTON - Last week's election is a classic good news/bad news story for the HME industry.

That bad news: 61 U.S. representatives who supported H.R. 3790, the industry's bill to eliminate competitive bidding, either lost the election or retired. That includes Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Fla., who lost his race for a U.S. Senate seat.

The good news: 196 lawmakers who support the bill remain in Congress, including Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, the likely speaker of the House of Representatives.

So what's it all mean? All's not lost.

Despite the election, H.R. 3790 remains alive until the 111th Congress adjourns, probably sometime in December. That means there's still time to push the bill during the lame duck session, according to AAHomecare.

(The same goes for industry efforts to delay elimination of the first-month purchase option for standard power wheelchairs, scheduled to kick in Jan. 1, 2011.)

If the industry comes up empty handed during the lame duck session, some high-ranking Republican Congressmen, along with some Democrats, have agreed to reintroduce H.R. 3790 in the 112th Congress, according to the Accredited Medical Equipment Providers of America (AMEPA).

Meanwhile, providers should meet with their newly elected lawmakers and educate them on HME issues, say industry leaders.

"You will never have a better chance for a site visit than with an eager new member of Congress who wants to learn," stated Wayne Stanfield, president of the National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers (NAIMES), in a bulletin to members. "You must have a face-to-face meeting with them before they go to DC in just six weeks."