Senator on home health care:

Monday, March 31, 2008

WASHINGTON – A power-packed line-up of speakers headlined AAHomecare’s Legislative Conference last month. They included, among others, two U.S. senators, a U.S. representative, three academic economists speaking on the folly of competitive bidding, a congressional candidate and the director of the Office of Management & Budget. Here are some of the event’s highlights.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

The senator called himself “a true believer” in home health care, and agrees with the industry that competitive bidding will drive providers out of business and deprive beneficiaries of access to home medical equipment. He pledged to do “everything I can” to make sure lawmakers do not impose additional cuts on HME this year, especially to avoid a mandated reduction to physician reimbursement slated for July 1. “Be assured that I am not going to stand by and let your industry pay for other(s) in the Medicare program,” Roberts said.
Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa.
Like Roberts, Altmire is a staunch supporter of the HME industry. He’s also a realist. To avoid additional cuts, the industry must fight hard for its share of the Medicare pie—and never stop fighting. Once you stop, another interest group will take your place and push your message to the sidelines, he said.
Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo.
The senator called health care one of the top three issues facing the nation this century. The other two Foreign policy and energy. Of the three, he called health care the most difficult and befuddling. “When it comes to health care, there are a lot of opinions. We can describe the problem, but none of us know what we ought to be doing.” That said, he agrees that HME is part of the solution to lowering the nation’s healthcare costs. “We know it is less expensive to take care of people in their homes,” he said. “It is inescapable. As we move forward with the issue of healthcare reform, it is important that your voice be heard.”
Jim Nussle, director, Office of Management & Budget
As a key architect of President Bush’s 2009 budget, which proposes cuts to oxygen and power wheelchairs, Nussle is, like the president, a proponent of competitive bidding. “The administration continues to believe in encouraging market competition,” he said. “We’ve seen some savings in pilot programs and therefore that remains popular.”
Dan Meuser, Pennsylvania Congressional candidate
Meuser left his position as president of Pride Mobility last year to run for Congress. During a fundraising event at the conference, he told 60 or so supporters that if he’s elected “you will always have an open door and a good friend in Congress. I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t be the leading (industry) advocate. There is no silver bullet to the pending healthcare crisis, but home care is one of the solutions. I understand that. It’s in my blood.” HME