Stimulus package includes HME provisions

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Thursday, March 26, 2020

WASHINGTON – The Senate last night passed a $2 trillion stimulus package that included several HME-related provisions, including extending the 50/50 blended rate in rural and non-contiguous, non-competitively bid areas.

The legislation also establishes a new 75/25 blended rate, retroactive to March 6, 2020, for all other non-bid areas for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic emergency.

“While the duration of the current emergency is impossible to predict, Capitol Hill contacts have noted to us that the Zika virus public health emergency (PHE) lasted 360 days, while the PHE related to the H1N1 flu outbreak lasted 450 days,” AAHomecare stated in a bulletin.

Other key HME provisions include the temporary elimination of the 2% Medicare sequester reduction that went into effect in 2013, effective for May 1–Dec. 31, 2020; and elimination of the three-year established patient relationship requirement from telehealth provisions in earlier COVID-19 relief legislation.

“These measures provide welcome support for the HME community as we serve patients impacted by COVID-19 and work to reduce the extraordinary burdens this outbreak is putting n hospitals and healthcare professionals nationwide,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “This legislation is a great step forward, but there are still numerous policy changes we’re seeking that will protect patients and HME professionals alike while also allowing our industry to make the strongest possible contribution to overcoming this pandemic.”

AAHomecare is also pushing for providing coverage for short-term oxygen therapy for beneficiaries with acute conditions to ease hospital overflows.

The legislation has moved to the House of Representatives, which could vote on it today.