Industry leaders urge swift action
WASHINGTON – It’s do or die; it’s make or break; it’s now or never. Any of these sayings aptly describe the recently introduced bill to replace competitive bidding with a market-pricing program (MPP), industry stakeholders say.
“This is by far the best opportunity we’ve had and, in many ways, the last opportunity we’ll have,” said Wayne Stanfield, president and CEO of NAIMES. “If we don’t succeed, Round 2 will go forward and it will be too late for many, many providers.”
Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., introduced H.R. 6490, the “Medicare DMEPOS Market Pricing Program Act of 212,” in the House of Representatives on Sept. 21. At press time, the bill had 13 co-sponsors.
With a bill now on the books, the industry’s No. 1 priority is racking up many more co-sponsors—ideally 150 to 200 of them, stakeholders say. They can’t emphasize enough the role that providers play in getting that important job done.
“Everyone has to take the initiative,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. “Pick up the phone. Write the email. Visit the office.”
Key talking points to discuss with lawmakers: The bill allows competitive bidding to move forward under the current timeline, and it’s budget neutral, stakeholders say. That resolves two of the biggest criticisms of past bills to repeal competitive bidding, H.R. 1041 and H.R. 3790.
“The response we’re getting is very positive,” said Jay Witter, senior director of government affairs for AAHomecare.
If the topic of a score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) comes up, stakeholders advise providers to tell lawmakers that it’s forthcoming and that the industry is committed to making the bill budget neutral.
“Let them know that the industry is working closely with the CBO and key committees in the House and Senate to get the score,” said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products. “We recognize that the bill has to be budget neutral for it to advance this year, and we’re confident we can make sure that it is.”
As for a Senate companion bill: It’d be nice, but it’s not mandatory, stakeholders say. And as for a vehicle for H.R. 6490: Congress is expected to put together at least one bill to address an upcoming cut to physicians and other issues after the elections, they say.
“At this point, we have to do everything pretty quick,” Stanfield said.
CMS plans to kick off Round 2 of competitive bidding on July 1, 2013.