Still wanted: Sponsor for Senate bill

Monday, July 31, 2006

WASHINGTON - The HME industry in early July continued to scour the Senate for a sponsor to champion a bill that, like the Hobson-Tanner bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, would lessen the blow of competitive bidding.
The industry wanted a Senate sponsor to introduce a bill by the end of July. That would allow providers and other stakeholders, with bill in hand, to lobby senators during their annual August recess.
"They'll be back in D.C. at the end of August, and from then until October, that's when things start to happen," said Wayne Grau, Pride Mobility's senior area manager for New England, who has been conducting grassroots efforts nationwide.
Last Chance for Patient Choice, a VGM-initiated nonprofit advocacy group, planned to help state associations coordinate meetings between providers and beneficiaries and their legislators.
The industry is talking with a handful of senators about being the lead sponsor or co-sponsors for the bill, including those on the powerful Finance Committee, sources said.
If an NCB bill doesn't pass this year, the game's not over. There'll probably be a Medicare package introduced next year that a bill could be attached to, one source said.
Meanwhile, the industry has collected 128 co-sponsors for the Hobson-Tanner bill.