Industry’s task remains unchanged, AAH says

Thursday, June 30, 2016

WASHINGTON – A second round of Medicare reimbursement cuts goes into effect in non-bid areas on July 1, but it’s not time to throw in the towel, AAHomecare said in a bulletin on June 29.

“There’s nothing like a crisis to help spur legislators to action,” the association stated. “We need to make sure that we let the House of Representatives and the Senate know that these cuts are taking rural providers and patients to the precipice of disaster.”

The Senate passed a bill that would delay the second round of cuts for one year, until July 1, 2017. But the House failed to pass a bill that would delay the cuts for three months before Congress recessed for the July 4th holiday.

The impasse is already resonating throughout the industry, with providers like Gary Sheehan deciding not to accept new patients on Nantucket Island effective July 1.

“The reality is fairly simple,” said Sheehan, CEO of Cape Medical Supply in Sandwich, Mass., in a statement on the company’s website.“The cost of acquiring and maintaining equipment, paired with the cost to provide the required services and support to patients, now far exceeds the reimbursement associated with that equipment and service. Because of that simple fact, we need to make extremely difficult decisions.”

New analysis from AAHomecare reveals the average change between the 2015 fee schedule and the July 1 rates, which incorporate two rounds of cuts, is 51.1% in non-bid areas.

“The July 1 cuts for rural providers are brutal and unsustainable,” the association stated. “Our industry’s task remains unchanged—we need to pass rural relief legislation.”

Congress returns from its break on July 5 and 6.