MPP gets bump from congressional hearing

Friday, September 14, 2012

WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders plan to build on the momentum created by last week's congressional hearing to push the market-pricing program (MPP).

"The message is pretty clear," said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. "The program that CMS has put together is fundamentally flawed and harms small businesses and needs to be replaced. Here's a viable alternative."

Stakeholders hope Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., will introduce a bill for MPP this week—the last week the House is in session until after the Nov. 6 elections. Price agreed in August to take the lead on the bill.

The Sept. 11 hearing, which included testimony from two providers, CMS's Laurence Wilson and economist and auction expert Peter Cramton, definitely worked in the industry's favor, stakeholders say.

"Every examination of the competitive bidding program yields new information that shows that the bid program is not sustainable over the long term," said Walt Gorski, vice president of government affairs for AAHomecare. "Clearly, small business was at the heart of the hearing, but I think that concerns with the bidding process and its rules really were highlighted with comments from lawmakers."

MPP still needs an all-important score from the Congressional Budget Office and a democratic co-sponsor—two things that AAHomecare is working on with Price's office. In the meantime, with the official start to fall this week, stakeholders are waiting for CMS to announce the single payment amounts for Round 2. So far, CMS has been playing things close to the vest.

"CMS is just working through their process," said Gorski.