HMEs suffer 'bitter disappointment'

Friday, August 31, 2007

OLYMPIA, Wash. - A bill that would make DME exempt from the state sales tax languished in another session of the Washington state legislature recently.
The bill, introduced in both the state's House and Representatives and Senate, never gained traction, largely due to feet dragging by the Department of Revenue, said Tom Coogan, president elect of the Pacific Association for Medical Equipment Services (PAMES).
The department failed to determine a revised fiscal note for the bill in time, leaving legislators with the impression that it would cost $24 million to implement.
"Because of that, the bill didn't receive the seriousness it should have," Coogan said.
Eventually, the department, after recognizing that the bill wouldn't apply to lifts and certain other products, determined it would cost $7.6 million.
"Our sponsor, (Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina), said this year was our year, if we could get the fiscal note under $10 million, which we did," said Wendell Matas, president of PAMES. "It was a bitter disappointment."
But with the fiscal note straightened out, PAMES will try to get the bill passed next year, its eighth attempt.
"I thought seven was my lucky number, but year No. 8 in 2008--that sounds pretty good," Coogan said.