Industry regroups on bid relief

‘We’ll live to fight next year’
Friday, December 18, 2015

WASHINGTON – The HME industry took a blow last week when competitive bid legislation was left out of an omnibus spending package, but stakeholders are already regrouping.

“This hurts,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “It’s not what we wanted, but we’ve got to get back in the game. It didn’t appear to be any particular person that objected, but at the end of the day, there just were not a lot of Medicare issues that were passed.”

The industry had targeted the spending package as a vehicle for S. 2312 and H.R. 4185, which would soften the blow of the roll out of competitive bid rates in non-bid areas.

The industry did score a victory last week, however. A last-minute Senate bill which included a provision to delay the application of bid pricing to accessories for complex rehab wheelchairs, passed on Friday afternoon.

Stakeholders wasted no time last week reviewing their options. Ryan met with Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., and the association plans to meet with Senate Finance Committee staff and other stakeholders in January.

“They’ve already had a discussion about their willingness to get something to happen as soon as we can,” he said. “We’ve been told there will be a Medicare or other large package early in the year.”

Stakeholders will need to find another pay-for, however—the spending package contained a provision to cap Medicaid at bidding rates starting in 2019.

“That was tough for our members to agree to in the first place,” said Ryan. “We’ve got to figure out a way to pay for this, but I don’t see a way to pay for it out of our industry.”

Despite last week’s letdown, stakeholders say there’s a lot of goodwill for getting the bills passed.

“Our champions are extraordinarily adamant about wanting to get this thing done,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. “We’ll live to fight next year.”