Sen. Thune gets backup from Sen. Heitkamp

Thursday, November 12, 2015

WASHINGTON – Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., has agreed to be an original co-sponsor, along with Sen. John Thune, R-S.D, on a bill that would soften the blow of the nationwide rollout of competitive bidding pricing on Jan. 1, according to AAHomecare.

“When the South Dakota providers met with Sen. Thune earlier this year and he agreed to work with Rep. Price, the industry needed a Democratic lead, and Sen. Heitkamp seemed like the logical fit,” said Barb Stockert of Jamestown, N.D.-based Sanford HealthCare Accessories in a bulletin from the association this week.

Heitkamp was one of 50 co-signers on a letter to CMS last year that asked the agency not to expand competitive bidding until the Office of Inspector General completes an investigation of Round 2 of the program.

In October, Reps. Tom Price, R-Ga., and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., agreed to introduce a bill in the House of Representatives that would provide a 30% increase in reimbursement and phase in cuts over four years. As it stands, CMS intends to phase in the cuts, which will likely be up to 45% to 50% in non-bid areas, over six months.

Details of the legislation are currently being hammered out, with the goal of having consistent language introduced in both chambers, AAHomecare says.

Without a legislative solution, providers in rural areas will likely have to reevaluate their product offerings and/or ask beneficiaries to pay out of pocket if they want to stay in business, they say.