Stakeholders prepare for bid-relief bill to drop

They’re sharing draft language, circulating position papers
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Friday, October 13, 2017

WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders have begun the task of shoring up support in anticipation of a bill that would provide some relief from the competitive bid program.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., has released draft language of the legislation, which would extend a retroactive delay of a second round of reimbursement cuts in non-bid areas from Jan. 1, 2017, to Jan. 1, 2019. Per the legislation, reimbursement for that period would be based on reimbursement on Jan. 1, 2016.

“McMorris Rodgers asked us to share the draft language,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “We’ve shared it with our councils and state leaders, and put together position papers. It’s top of the agenda.”

The legislation would also remedy a “double-dip” cut to oxygen payments caused by the misapplication of a 2006 budget neutrality offset balancing increased utilization for oxygen generating portable equipment with lower reimbursement for stationary equipment.
 

Stakeholders say the goal is for the bill to drop by Nov. 1. It’s hard to say whether there will be an appropriate vehicle to attach it to.

“McMorris Rodgers is Republican leadership, so she is really evaluating the options,” said Jay Witter, senior vice president of public policy for AAHomecare. “There’s been some discussion about the Medicare extenders in the fall or a possibility of moving forward as a standalone.”

With an interim final rule titled “Durable Medical Equipment Fee Schedule, Adjustment to Resume the Transitional 50/50 Blended Rates to Provider Relief in Non-Competitive Bidding Areas,” seemingly stalled at the Office of Management and Budget and the shocking resignation of industry champion Tom Price from his post as Health and Human Services secretary, stakeholders say they are as ready as HME providers to seem some action this fall.

“Short term, we’ve got to push this bill to say, hey, this is the will of Congress,” said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for VGM. “Get off the dime; get the IFR done.”