Still wanted: sponsor for Senate NCB bill

Sunday, July 9, 2006

WASHINGTON - The HME industry continues 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 would like 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 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.

Currently, Last Chance for Patient Choice, a VGM-initiated nonprofit advocacy group, is helping state associations to 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, industry sources said. There'll probably be a Medicare package introduced next year that a bill could be attached to, said one industry source.

Meanwhile, the industry continues to collect co-sponsors for the Hobson-Tanner bill or H.R. 3559. It had collected more than 120 co-sponsors so far.