New focus on market-pricing program

Friday, April 19, 2013

WASHINGTON – When the bill to replace competitive bidding with a market-pricing program (MPP) is introduced, it will have lead sponsors on both sides of the aisle, industry stakeholders say.

When a similar bill was introduced in September of 2012 during the previous session of Congress, its lone lead sponsor was Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga. The new bill, now being finalized, will be spearheaded by Price and a Democratic lawmaker, stakeholders say.

“The good news from the industry’s perspective is both Democrats and Republicans seem to agree that this program is fundamentally flawed and an alternative needs to be put in place prior to any start,” says Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility.

At press time, stakeholders declined to name the Democratic lawmaker.

With the introduction of the MPP bill imminent, stakeholders are putting on the backburner another bill that they’re working on to delay implementation of Round 2 on July 1. The reason for prioritizing MPP: eliminating confusion, stakeholders say.

“If the delay bill came out first, everyone may want to jump on that bill,” says Wayne Stanfield, president and CEO of NAIMES. “But if we can get the MPP bill out first, it would be the driving factor.”

Stakeholders say delaying the implementation of Round 2 would be only a stopgap measure, a less direct route to the industry’s ultimate goal: doing away with competitive bidding in its current form.

“Dr. Price wants to make sure that all the focus is on the MPP bill, and nothing else,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. “In this case, we really need the whole enchilada.”