HMEs seek Senators’ signatures

Sunday, June 8, 2003

June 9, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The fight to persuade Congress that competitive bidding is bad for Medicare beneficiaries fanned out over Capitol Hill last Tuesday as members of AAHomecare called on senators to ally themselves with Sen. Mary L. Landrieu’s (D - La.) opposition to the controversial reimbursement mechanism.

Providers representing 83 different HME companies called on legislators in 37 states, seeking signatures on a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter that Landrieu wrote in March to Sens. Max Baucus (D – Mont.) and Charles Grassley (R – Iowa), both members of the Senate Finance Committee.

Although AAHomecare members also called on House representatives, most concede that the battle to beat back competitive bidding in the House has already been lost to Rep. Bill Thomas’ (R – Calif.) enthusiasm for the change.

Indeed, Patrick Morrissey, a congressional staffer who works for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, confirmed during the conference that competitive bidding was part of a Medicare reform bill that would soon come to light.

The HME industry has been fighting to keep competitive bidding language from a Senate bill that was coming together as HME providers mustered opposition last month. The industry is likely to win that battle, although Grassley is likely to implement a seven-year CPI freeze as a cost-cutting alternative, sources say.