Separate benefit: ‘Our hope is to get it done this year’

Friday, September 19, 2014

WASHINGTON – Armed with a growing number of co-sponsors, industry stakeholders hope to get bills to create a separate benefit for complex rehab in both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed this year. 

The plan is to get the bills attached to a larger piece of Medicare legislation, stakeholders say. 

"The most difficult thing about this bill, like all of our stuff, is getting a legislative vehicle that's moving through the House and Senate sooner rather than later," said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare.

The bills—H.R. 942 and S. 948—have 159 and 21 co-sponsors, respectively, including influential members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees with jurisdiction over Medicare.

Although the bills are complicated, technical and detailed, signing on is a "no brainer" once lawmakers understand its objectives and what it will do, stakeholders say. 

"Adding co-sponsors is really critical because it shows there's huge support for it, so when a vehicle does come along, it's much easier to attach it,” Bachenheimer said.

While stakeholders are optimistic about the chances of the bills passing, they say it's unlikely anything will happen until after the November elections.

"Depending on the outcome, Congress will decide whether to take on Medicare legislation in the lame duck session, or whether to pick it up in January or February in the new session," said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART.

Should the latter be the case, the current bills would die, but they can be re-introduced, stakeholders say.

"We know what we need to do that we have control over, and that's what we're working on now," said Clayback said. "We can pick up on our momentum in January if we need to. Our hope is to get it done this year."