March continues for NCB bill

Saturday, December 31, 2005

WASHINGTON - The HME industry by early December added six legislators to the list of co-signers for H.R. 3559, a bill it believes will lessen the blow of national competitive bidding.
With representatives from Massachusetts and other states on board, there are now 55 co-signers, according to AAHomecare.
AAHomecare, state associations and members groups believe 200 co-signers are needed for Congress to act on the Hobson-Tanner bill.
Supporters recharged their efforts in November. The New York Medical Equipment Providers (NYMEP) conducted a fly in on Nov. 16, during which four of its members met with 19 state representatives, said Carol Napierski, executive director.
The industry, which has lobbied for H.R. 3559 since July 2005, has struggled to catch Congress' attention in the face of more urgent matters like Hurricane Katrina. But momentum may swing its way in 2006, industry sources say.
"I think things will change," Napierski said. "Just sitting down with officials--in 15 minutes they understood the elements of this and seemed very supportive."
While the Hobson-Tanner bill wouldn't eliminate NCB, it would revise some of the provisions in the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA). The biggest revision: allowing any qualified, participating provider to do business at the winning bid's price.