HMEs rally for H.R. 4491

Saturday, July 31, 2004

WASHINGTION - Seventeen members of Congress have put their names on H.R. 4491, a House measure that would repeal the FEHPB cuts set to take effect in January.

In addition to the bill’s sponsors, David Hobson, D-Ohio, and Harold Ford, Jr., D-Tenn., 10 Democrats and five Republicans have agreed to co-sponsor the industry’s best bet to squelch the MMA-prescribed cuts.

The FEHBP cuts and a looming oxygen reduction would lower reimbursement on about two-third’s of CMS’s DME expenditures, ranging from 3% for the K0011 power wheelchair to 22% for nebulizers.

Critics of the proposed FEHBP percentages say the demographic particulars of federal employees and Medicare beneficiaries hardly make the cuts viable and that the government is once again confusing apples and oranges.

The bill’s founder, David Hobson, told an AAHomecare delegation in June that the measure needed 100-130 co-sponsors to be effective. While no one really believes the House will bring the measure to a floor vote, a critical mass of support may prompt CMS to study the issue further.

“If CMS has to go through some of that analysis, that could delay implementation until we are able to attach it to a moving vehicle,” said Cara Bachenheimer, vice president of government relations at Invacare.

AAHomecare may schedule a fly-in for this September to redouble the pressure on members of Congress. Until then, state HME associations are lobbying their respective delegations.