Hobson-Tanner bill reaches 'magic number'

Sunday, April 30, 2006

WASHINGTON - The HME industry enjoyed a small victory when legislators returned to Capitol Hill last week, and the official tally of representatives co-sponsoring the Hobson-Tanner bill exceeded 100.

"We've hit the magic number," said Wayne Grau, a Pride Mobility employee who has been traveling the country recruiting co-sponsors for the bill. "Now we can take a look at a companion bill in the Senate. Do we want more co-sponsors for the House bill? Absolutely, but we need both bills."

The industry believes the Hobson-Tanner bill, or H.R. 3559, would lessen the blow of national competitive bidding (NCB). It aims to recruit 175 to 200 co-sponsors for the bill and then slide it into a bigger piece of legislation.

For the same thing to happen in the Senate, the industry estimates it needs 35 to 40 co-sponsors.

"We want a bill introduced in the Senate before it's too late into June or July," said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for The VGM Group.

But the going could be tougher in the Senate, industry sources said. Senators who are interested in sponsoring a bill have already sent a draft bill to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to determine its potential cost or "score," and they're "awaiting resolution on that issue," one source said.

(Rep. David Hobson, R-Ohio, chose not to get H.R. 3559 scored. It's not a requirement in the House of Representatives.)

Because the Senate hasn't introduced its bill, however, the bill hasn't been officially scored, Grau said.

Regardless, due to their possible financial impact, the industry may have to consider dropping one or two of its provisions, industry sources said.