H.R. 1041: Industry efforts remain steadfast

Thursday, April 28, 2011

WASHINGTON - Industry stakeholders say they expect to see an uptick in sponsors for H.R. 1041 when lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this week.

"We know people are calling (lawmakers)," said Wayne Stanfield, president of the National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers. "We've had enough feedback that I think there will be a significant spike in co-sponsors."

So far, H.R. 1041, the bill to repeal Medicare's national competitive bidding program, has 83 co-sponsors. A previous House bill to repeal the program gained 259 co-sponsors, but the industry's efforts never gained traction in the Senate.

On April 26, several contract suppliers and a Medicare beneficiary met with Sen. Bill Nelson's chief of staff in his Miami office. But Sean Schwinghammer has no illusions that the second-term Democrat will introduce a Senate companion bill for H.R. 1041.

"They are asking for information, but they aren't saying they will support 1041," said Schwinghammer, executive director of the Florida Association of Home Care Suppliers. "To us, that just means they are just delaying and they are not going to do anything."

In addition to continuing to educate lawmakers, providers need to continue collecting examples of problems associated with the program in the first nine competitive bidding areas, says Walt Gorski.

"We think HME providers should be talking to their intake staff and asking them what type of (problem) calls they are getting in these markets," said Gorski, vice president of government relations for AAHomecare. "Then providers need to relay that information to AAHomecare's 1-800 number."