Industry cheers Price nomination

‘He has been an incredibly vocal opponent of CMS’
 - 
Friday, December 2, 2016

WASHINGTON – As the new secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., would have a huge agenda—one that, industry stakeholders believe, could better support HME.

Price, a six-term congressman and a longtime champion of HME, has been tapped by President-Elect Donald Trump to take over the huge agency. Price’s resume includes introducing multiple bills to create an alternative to the competitive bidding program called the market-pricing program, and to soften the blow of the bid program.

“He has been an incredibly vocal opponent of the way CMS has implemented the competitive bidding program,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. “There’s so many ways the program could be improved and I am hoping we are collectively going to work with him to make some changes.”

One possible change: implementing MPP, say stakeholders.

“MPP is his baby,” said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for The VGM Group. “It’s already written and could be implemented easily.”

Still, stakeholders acknowledge Price will have a lot on his plate, and many much higher priorities than HME. The biggest?Repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, which the congressman has been studying how to dismantle for the past six years, according to The New York Times.

Repealing ACA would be music to the ears of many HME providers, say stakeholders.

“ACA has not been our friend,” said Gallagher said. “A repeal would eliminate the roll out of bid prices to rural America. He also has the authority, as secretary, to further delay the cut.”

And then there’s Medicare, the granddaddy of healthcare programs, which Price might also seek to reform. As a physician, Price—who worked in private practice as an orthopedic surgeon for nearly 20 years—has different ideas about how the healthcare system should work, says Gallagher.

“He’s very much about local control of health care, and health care between the patient and the doctor,” he said. “I don’t think he’s against Medicare and Medicaid, but he thinks it’s highly inefficient and not effective. Regardless of what they do, and what changes they would make, I think DME is in a good place because he understands the need for in-the-home care.”
Trump has also named Seema Verma, founder and president of health policy consulting firm SVC, as the next administrator of CMS. Verma is a Medicaid policy expert and the architect of the Healthy Indiana Plan, the nation’s first consumer-directed Medicaid program.