Hobson-Tanner bill: 30 down, 170 to go

Monday, October 31, 2005

WASHINGTON - The HME industry is still 170 legislators shy of meeting its goal of collecting 200 co-signers for H.R. 3559, a bill intended to lessen the blow of national
competitive bidding.
AAHomecare, state associations and member groups have been waving the HME flag since July, and by the end of October, they had helped to bring on board 30 co-signers, according to Sara Perkins, press secretary for Rep. David Hobson, R-Ohio, who is sponsoring the bill.
Progress is slow, largely due to more urgent matters like hurricanes Katrina and Rita and judicial nominations, but Karyn Estrella is quick to point out that more than 107 legislators have been contacted about the Hobson-Tanner bill since this summer.
"In the next month, we hope to have all 107-plus converted," said Estrella, chairwoman of AAHomecare's state leaders council and executive director of the New England Medical Equipment Dealers.
They'll need to. If H.R. 3559 has a chance of catching Congress' attention or riding on the coattails of a "moving piece of legislation," supporters will likely need to collect more than the 170 co-signers collected for last year's H.R. 4491, industry sources said. Moreover, with NCB set to kick off in 10 metropolitan statistical areas in 2007, they're running out of time.
Estrella said the state associations and AAHomecare are currently sharing information on who has been contacted, so AAHomecare, based just outside Washington, can follow up personally with legislators on the Hill. "Since we are here, close at hand, we're working hand-in-hand with state leaders and groups like the MED Group and VGM," said Kay Cox, CEO of AAHomecare.
AAHomecare also contacts, mostly by e-mail, more than 560 legislative assistants, and the Hobson-Tanner bill is often a talking point, said Michael Reinemer, director of communications for the association.
While the Hobson-Tanner bill wouldn't eliminate NCB, it would revise some of the provisions in the Medicare Modernization Act. The biggest revision: allowing any qualified provider who participates in the bid process to do business at the winning bid's price.