H.R. 3559 reaches 'magic number'

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

WASHINGTON - The HME industry enjoyed a small victory when legislators returned to Capitol Hill the week of April 24, and the official tally of representatives co-sponsoring the Hobson-Tanner bill exceeded 100.
"We've hit the magic number," said Wayne Grau, Pride Mobility's senior area manager for New England, 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."
At press time in mid-May, the Hobson-Tanner bill, which the industry believes will lessen the blow of national competitive bidding (NCB), had 109 co-sponsors.
The industry aims to recruit 175 to 200 co-sponsors for the bill, also known as H.R. 3559, 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.