Time to 'rattle cages' on MPP

Friday, November 9, 2012

WASHINGTON – The elections may not have gone the way some HME stakeholders wanted, but there’s a silver lining for a bill to replace competitive bidding with a market-pricing program (MPP).

With the same president, as well as the same control of the House of Representatives and Senate, stakeholders believe more will get done in the upcoming lame duck session, increasing the chances of a vehicle for H.R. 6490.

“If President Obama hadn’t gotten re-elected, no one would have negotiated with him, because he would hold no weight,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. “This is the best dynamic for a package happening before the end of the year for us to get MPP attached and passed into law.”

Possible packages include bills to address the so-called “fiscal cliff”—tax increases and spending cuts that are due to go into effect Jan. 1—and the doc fix.

Now that the elections are over, stakeholders have only a few weeks to ramp up the number of co-sponsors for H.R. 6490. At press time, the bill had 27 co-sponsors, with a goal, according to its sponsor Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., of 80 to 100.

“This industry has to motivate and mobilize its entire population of providers to rattle the cages of the House,” said Wayne Stanfield, president and CEO of NAIMES. “Unless we can do that, I suspect little will happen.”

The industry’s efforts have gotten a nice bump from an increase in the number of providers getting involved, some for the first time, stakeholders say.

“I am seeing new faces stepping up, like Karen Atkins in Kansas City,” said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for The VGM Group. “Is it as much as I’d like? No.”

Though a score for the bill from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) remains elusive, stakeholders say they’ve been assured it will get done before the end of the year.

“It’s coming together,” said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products. “There’s confidence from those involved that we’ll receive a score in time for action later this year.”