H.R. 6490: Representatives 'get it'

Friday, October 12, 2012

WASHINGTON – Add at least three more representatives to the list of co-sponsors for H.R. 6490, the bill to replace the current competitive bidding program with an industry-backed and economist-approved market-pricing program (MPP).

At press time on Friday, the official tally of co-sponsors was 16, including new supporters Reps. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., David Loebsack, D-Iowa, and Tim Murphy, R-Pa.

“We’re very pleased that two Pennsylvania reps that we’ve been working with have signed onto the bill,” said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products. “We heard that there are at least two more that have agreed to sign on, but they’re not reflected on the list yet.”

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., introduced H.R. 6490 in August with 13 original co-sponsors.

Stakeholders hope Medtrade will get providers amped up to contact their representatives about the bill. Exhibitors like The VGM Group will have computers set up in their booths to make it easy.

“They think it will take too long, but once they’ve done it, they realize how easy it is and they’re glad they did it,” said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for VGM. “Then we try to get them to get their employees to do it, too.”

The industry has a long way to go yet to get a majority of representatives to support H.R. 6490. But it has two things working in its favor, stakeholders say: 1.) The 173 representatives who supported H.R. 1041, a bill to repeal competitive bidding, will likely transition their support to H.R. 6490; and 2.) it will have until the end of November to collect co-sponsors because lawmakers will likely wait to start the lame-duck session until after Thanksgiving.

“Still, no one should be resting on their laurels,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare.

Stakeholders continue to grease the wheels by organizing events across the country to talk up H.R. 6490. Gallagher, working with state associations, has upcoming meetings locked in for Utah and New England.

“We’re talking about how it’s a train wreck; we’re talking about CMS not being forthcoming with information; we’re talking about access issues,” he said. “The reception is always positive. They get it.”