Smart Talk: Start lobbying for Hobson-Tanner

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Q. What is the Hobson-Tanner Bill and how will it affect the current status of competitive bidding?
A. Rep. David Hobson, R-Ohio, and Rep. John Tanner, D-Tenn., introduced a bill that would amend several provisions of the MMA dealing with competitive bidding. Unfortunately, the bill would not repeal competitive bidding. It would, however, protect patient access and ensure that small suppliers can participate in the bidding process. That's huge.
Specifically, the bill would allow qualified small suppliers who submit a bid below the current allowable to participate at the selected award price. This passage of this provision will help to ensure the survival of small suppliers.
For most HME providers, the time to act is now. For years, HME leaders have encouraged providers to lobby on behalf of industry issues. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of providers regularly heed the call. Why is that? Former AAHomecare Chairman Tim Pontius said he believes there is a "general malaise" among providers.
Whatever the reason, it's time to snap to! Contact your congressmen and get them to understand how important the bill is to the HME industry and Medicare beneficiaries. If competitive bidding drives small HMEs out of business, local jobs will be lost and beneficiary access will decrease. Those are good arguments that hit home with lawmakers.
The prospect of lobbying may be daunting to providers who have never done it. If you need help getting started, AAHomecare, your state HME association and provider service organizations like the VGM Group and The MED Group are there to help.

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Denise M. Fletcher is an attorney with the Health Care Group of Brown & Fortunato, an Amarillo, Texas based law firm. She can be reached at dfletcher@bf-law.com.

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