Time is 'tight' for market pricing program

Thursday, December 15, 2011

WASHINGTON – Two bills passed by Congress last week didn't appear to include any cuts to home medical equipment, but they didn't include the industry's market pricing program for competitive bidding, either.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed an omnibus spending bill late last week, and the Senate passed a controversial payroll tax extension bill, which includes a "doc fix," over the weekend. The latter is only a two-month patch, meaning lawmakers will likely take up the payroll tax and doc fix again in February.

With the bid window for Round 2 of competitive bidding set to open Jan. 30, any way you look at it, time is tight to move MPP forward, say industry stakeholders.

"It's definitely a tall order," said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. "I know it seems late in the game, but it's not impossible."

Working in the industry's favor: Key lawmakers think the bill makes good policy, stakeholders say.

"We have gained widespread acceptance that this is a substantial improvement to the current program," Bachenheimer said. "That's huge."

Working against the industry: The cost of MPP remains an unknown. AAHomecare officials met with the Congressional Budget Office and key legislative staffers on Dec. 9, but they had no comment on the meeting.

Last week, numerous groups, including AAHomecare, The VGM Group and NAIMES, issued action alerts urging HME providers to contact lawmakers and ask them to include MPP in the doc fix bill.

"We are trying to keep the calls going," said Wayne Stanfield, president and CEO of NAIMES. "We are pressing all of our members to keep (up the pressure)."

Just because it doesn’t look like MPP will move forward this year, doesn’t mean all hope is lost, stakeholders say.

"We will still look for opportunities to move this forward," said Stanfield. "It certainly has its challenges, but MPP is not dead.



Until the voters are facing a defacto denial of coverage they aren't going to make the politicians care. And until the politicians care in a way where they feel their own personal self interest is involved, things are just going to continue to go from bad to worse.