Industry pounds pavement on MPP

Bill’s supporters creep to 31
Friday, November 16, 2012

WASHINGTON – It was back to work on Capitol Hill the week of Nov. 12 and HME industry stakeholders wasted no time pushing to replace competitive bidding with a market-pricing program (MPP).

A team from the Florida Association of Home Care Services and AMEPA called on 21 congressional offices Nov. 13 and 14.

"We got a number of verbal commitments," said Rob Brant, AMEPA CEO. "There were a few that said they hadn't heard of any problems with the program or said they haven't heard any complaints from beneficiaries."

At press time, H.R. 6490 had 31 co-sponsors, far short of the 80 to 100 that the bill's sponsor, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., has said he would like to see.

There's no magic number, say stakeholders.

"People are taking notice, the cosponsor lists are increasing, and we are working with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to just continue to get more exposure for the bill," said Walt Gorski, vice president of government relations for AAHomecare.

Indeed, with only a few weeks left in the current Congress—members are off the week of Nov. 19 for Thanksgiving—no stone was getting left unturned.

"We are working to get senators to weigh in on MPP with senate leadership, Democrat and Republican," said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility. "We're also working on Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and ranking Republican Orrin Hatch to let them know how important it is that the legislation moves through this year."

As if industry stakeholders aren't busy enough, outside groups are weighing in on what they say is a positive bidding program. The Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank, even proposed applying competitive bidding to all healthcare products—from devices to lab tests.

"Here are organizations simply following and using the government produced documents that the industry sees as biased," said Wayne Stanfield, president and CEO of NAIMES. "None of them are looking at the counter evidence, of which there is a considerable amount."

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Photo (above): Providers Amanda and Jerry Hall met with Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., during two days of Capitol Hill visits Nov. 13 and Nov. 14.