Reporter’s notebook: Don’t overlook state support

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

While all eyes are on competitive bidding and working with lawmakers in Congress, it’s important not to overlook the importance of forging relationships at the state level, say providers.

Provider Steve Huntington recently hosted a site visit for Republican state senator Andre Jacque and was pleasantly surprised when Jacque suggested he might be able to help with H.R. 2771, which seeks to provide relief from the bid program in rural and non-rural non-bid areas, and eliminate the budget neutrality requirement for oxygen.

“We talked to him about the disparity in pricing between rural and non-rural areas and he took quite an interest in that,” said Huntington, director of finance for HME Home Medical in Green Bay, Wis., which covers 11 rural and non-rural counties. “He said that might be something he could present to the state senate to pass a bill proposing that our U.S. congressmen get on board and support it.”

Also, once the bid window closes Sept. 18, providers enter a gap period of about 16 months, during which they can put the focus back on state issues, including licensure, Medicaid audits, managed care organizations and tax exemptions, says John Gallagher. He pointed to the recent success in Oklahoma, where Gov. Kevin Stitt on July 31 signed a bill exempting DME from sales tax.

“That’s huge,” said Gallagher, vice president of government relations for VGM. “If you were a provider bidding in Tulsa or Oklahoma City, you had another 9% to 10% tax (on top of reimbursement cuts) and that can’t be passed onto the beneficiary.”