Washington update: Rule moves closer to reality, but agenda remains long

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

ATLANTA – CMS’s final rule with significant changes to the competitive bidding program has moved to the Office of Management and Budget for clearance, Tom Ryan told Medtrade attendees at Tuesday morning’s AAHomecare Washington Update.

“That’s breaking news,” said Ryan, president and CEO, who learned of the development as the session was drawing to a close.

Stakeholders expect the final rule to be published in November. An earlier proposed rule received 514 comments by its Sept. 10 deadline.

“That’s a lot of noise,” said Ryan. “The agency has heard it. We are in a position we are happy to be in.”

With November just around the corner, Jay Witter is getting a lot of questions about how the outcome of the elections will impact the industry’s to-do list.

“There are challenges and opportunities if the House of Representatives or the Senate majorities change,” said Witter, senior vice president of public policy. “They key is to support your members who are supportive of us.”

Whichever way the elections go, the industry’s agenda remains reforming the bid program, limiting the impact of cuts associated with the 21st Century Cures Act and improving the audit program.

“We’re meeting with Renee Ellmers, the regional CMS administrator, next week,” Witter said of the former Republican Congresswoman from North Carolina, who has been a champion for the industry in the past, introducing several HME-related bills, including one related to audit reform.

With the wait time for a hearing before an administrative law judge now at 1,206 days, it’s important not to let the massive appeals backlog become the new normal, said Kim Brummett.

“Does anybody talk about the backlog anymore,” asked Brummett, vice president of regulatory affairs for AAHomecare. “It’s an issue.”

Looking ahead, the industry needs to get on board with innovations like e-prescribing to help reduce errors in the first place, Brummett says.

“One of our biggest failures is our written orders,” she said. “If we could fix the detailed written order and the proof of delivery, the CERT error rate would drop 20%.”