Push for industry bills continues
Providers and other stakeholders continued to call and meet with Washington lawmakers during the August recess, asking them to support several industry-related bills and fight two new provisions.
The industry stumped for bills to lessen the blow of national competitive bidding (H.R. 1845 and S. 1428), eliminate the 36-month cap on home oxygen reimbursement (H.R. 621 and S. 1484) and carve out complex rehab from competitive bidding (H.R. 2231). Additionally, it fought a bill drafted by the U.S. House of Representatives that would reduce the oxygen cap to 18 months and eliminate the first-month purchase option for power wheelchairs.
On Aug. 26, Invacare held its annual fundraiser for Rep. Dave Hobson, R-Ohio, co-sponsor of H.R. 1845. At the event, Hobson told attendees that if the industry can hit 200 co-sponsors by the end of September or early October, he'd have a good chance of attaching the bill to a larger bill, increasing its chances of passing.
"We have 112 co-sponsors right now, and we need to keep pushing," said Cara Bachenheimer, vice president of government relations for Invacare. "If we get 200, leadership will take notice."
On Aug. 21, The VGM Group hosted a fundraiser for Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. The event, which took place at the home of Van Miller, raised nearly $70,000 for Grassley.
In Montana, the Big Sky Association of Home Medical Equipment Suppliers set its sights on Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Finance Committee. While the association is "struggling to get his ear," it's planning a series of town hall-style meetings across the state to get his attention, said Mike Calcaterra, the association's president.
"We need to let beneficiaries know of the possible impact of these issues, and we need to express to them the importance of Baucus, and how, at this point, he's sitting on the sidelines," said Calcaterra, a branch manager with Norco Medical in Missoula, Mont.
Providers and stakeholders in Minnesota made progress with Rep. Jim Ramstad, R-Minn., during the August recess.
"After working on him for years and after nearly daily conversations with providers, he has agreed to sign on to H.R. 1845," said Rose Schafhauser, executive director of the Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services (MAMES).