Hobson drafts FEHBP-cuts repeal

Monday, May 31, 2004

WASHINGTON - Industry supporter Rep. David Hobson, R-Ohio, has drafted a bill that if passed would repeal 2005 reimbursement cuts for select DME and oxygen.

As of early May, Hobson had yet to introduce the bill, but once he does, it should prove a good grassroots lobbying tool. Providers can call their representatives with something concrete to talk about and encourage them to sign on to the bill as co-sponsors, say industry watchers.

“No one has any illusions that a bill like this, on its own, will pass Congress,” said Cara Bachenheimer, Invacare’s vice president of government affairs. “But it will significantly increase our chances of getting it attached to [other legislation] if there is broad support. Hobson can’t do it alone.”

The Medicare Modernization Act, which President Bush signed in December, spells out specific percentage cuts to seven top DME items based on the median price of the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan. Some of the cuts could be as high as 20%. They will go into effect in 2005 unless repealed via new legislation.

Industry leaders claim that there are crucial differences in service levels and other issues that make it unfair to compare Medicare reimbursement for DME to FEHBP pricing.

With luck, Hobson will introduce the legislation before AAHomecare’s Legislative Conference in Washington June 7-9. That way association members can urge their representatives to sign it during lobbying visits.

“We’re going in and telling them this is a train wreck, and we need some help this year to turn it around,” said Seth Johnson, AAHomecare’s director of public policy. “I never under estimate the impact of a strong grass roots campaign. It can get things done.”