Industry can pull together or be 'diced and sliced'
ATLANTA - The "800-pound gorilla" known as competitive bidding will lumber into place Jan. 1 unless the HME industry gets it stopped, but that looks less and less likely as the 111th Congress limps to the finish line, AAHomecare officials told providers during their legislative update at Medtrade last week.
In addition to a full plate of tax cuts, the "doc fix" and the need to continue funding the federal government, lawmakers are faced with a $1 trillion federal deficit. That makes the $20 billion price tag on H.R. 3790, the bill to repeal competitive bidding, especially unattractive.
"Unless we can find $20 billion, legislatively it's going to be virtually impossible to stop competitive bidding," Walt Gorski, vice president of government affairs for AAHomecare, told attendees.
Don't expect the 112th Congress to be any better, warned Washington insider Stan Collender, who predicts that sweeping election changes will worsen the "no compromise" attitude that governs lawmakers these days.
"Compromise is a dirty word," said Collender, a partner in Qorvis Communications. "The ability to work with the other side is no longer there. Members would rather do nothing."
Gridlock, stalemates and government shutdowns could be the new reality in Washington, Collender told attendees.
"A handful of people will be able to disrupt anything that happens," he said. "In the senate all you need is one to filibuster any issue and nothing will happen at all."
But where there are threats, there is also opportunity, said Gorski.
"There are 90 new members of Congress coming to town," he said. "That's 90 new people to go talk to and a lot of people who liked competitive bidding (are gone)."
HME providers can make a difference, agreed Collender.
"Pulling together as a profession has never been more important than it will be over the next two years," he said. "Your ability to work with folks in Washington, and to message what you do, can make a difference. (But), if you're not in it together, you'll be diced and sliced."