Healthcare reform: Industry ponders next move in new reality

Thursday, March 25, 2010

WASHINGTON  With a stroke of President Barack Obamas pen, the HME provisions included in the Senates healthcare reform bill became law last week.

H.R. 3590, passed by the House of Representatives March 21, packs a punch: It will, among other things, expand Round 2 of national competitive bidding to another 21 cities and eliminate the first-month purchase option for standard power wheelchairs.

Its a done deal, agreed Walt Gorski, AAHomecare's vice president of government affairs.

Were assessing what the next vehicles are for changes, he said.

Also last week, the Senate and House passed a reconciliation bill that contains changes to H.R. 3590. The only one related to HME: a revised tax on manufacturers of medical devices. It proposes a 2.3% tax, rather than a 2.9% tax, on Class I, II and III devices beginning Jan. 1, 2013, rather than 2011.

The Senate and House will visit other healthcare-related legislation in the months ahead, giving the industry the opportunity to attach language that would reverse some of the provisions.

The conventional thinking right now is that they will probably need to do a technical corrections bill and a physician payment fix bill, Gorski said. Clearly, we are very focused on our legislative priorities and how to move them in light of the passage of health reform.

Other HME provisions in H.R. 3590:

*Competitive bidding pricing will be implemented in every metropolitan statistical area (MSA) by 2016.

*A 2% payment increase for product categories included in Round 1 of competitive bidding will be eliminated in 2014.

*A mandatory compliance program will be required for all providers, including HME providers.

*A face-to-face exam will be required for all HME.

*A yet-to-be defined productivity adjustment will lower future consumer price index-urban (CPI-U) updates to the HME fee schedule.