Stakeholders dig in for August recess

‘We’ve got a lot of work to do,’ says Tom Ryan
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Friday, August 2, 2019

WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders plan to use the August congressional recess to lay the groundwork for moving forward key priorities in September.

Those priorities include H.R. 2771, which would provide relief from the bid program in rural and non-rural non-bid areas, and eliminate the budget neutrality requirement for oxygen.

“We are actively working with folks on setting up meetings in their districts—and I’m also meeting with committee staff here in D.C.—to push legislation forward,” said Jay Witter, senior vice president of public policy for AAHomecare. “Our hopes are that there will be a large number of co-sponsors searching out opportunities to move legislation in the fall.”

The industry’s priorities also include H.R. 2328 and H.R. 3429, which would both stop Medicare from applying bid pricing to accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs for one year. NCART has designated Aug. 19-23 National CRT Awareness Week as a way to build support for the legislation during the recess.

Additionally, the industry is eyeing the fall for legislation that would require CMS to drop non-invasive vents from its competitive bidding program. A pair of sign-on letters in the House of Representatives and the Senate that garnered 180 and 38 co-signers, respectively, shows lawmakers are on the industry’s side, says Witter.

“They are concerned that CMS didn’t respond and didn’t remove vents from bidding,” he said. “They are talking to the committees of jurisdiction. Those discussions are happening and they are definitely looking for legislation to solve the issue.”

The VGM Group, which helps members connect with legislators, says meetings have already been held or are already scheduled in Wisconsin, Florida, Alabama, Minnesota and Oklahoma.

“We’re ramping things up over the next six to eight weeks,” said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations. “I’m seeing an uptick in providers getting involved. They are more comfortable with inviting them to meetings.”

Gallagher recommends pitching lawmakers a quick visit. Extend an open invitation for them to attend an association meeting breakfast or ask them to give a 10-minute stump speech followed by a short Q&A, he says.

“They love that and they are willing to do it,” he said.

Provider Steve Huntington is up for the task of getting support for H.R. 2771.

“I need to see who isn’t onboard yet and start sending emails and information,” said Huntington, director of finance for HME Home Medical in Green Bay, Wis. “Last time around we got everyone except (then-House speaker) Paul Ryan. With Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis., who is new, I am hoping we can get everyone in Wisconsin.”

That’s what AAHomecare’s Tom Ryan likes to hear.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Ryan, president and CEO of the association. “The rates are unsustainable and we’ve got a bill that would give us relief.”