Back in business

 - 
06/04/2008

Congress is back in session after its Memorial Day/district work recess, and according to preliminary reports from industry sources, legislators can't afford to waste any time before introducing a Medicare package. One industry source says that Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Finance Committee, plans to introduce a Senate version of the package as early as next week. That means the industry's lobbying non-stop this week to get the following included in the package:

*a delay of Round 1 of national competitive bidding, which kicks off July 1. Earlier this week, the industry was able to get one-third of the House of Representatives (132 members) to sign a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee leadership demanding at least a one-year delay.
*a carve out for complex rehab

The industry's also lobbying to keep the following excluded from the package:

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From Hell hd *a reimbursement cut for home oxygen therapy (One industry source says legislators are contemplating a single-digit not a double-digit cut).
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*the elimination of the first-month purchase option for power wheelchairs.

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Legislators hope to have a Medicare package introduced before July 1 to prevent a 10% cut to physician reimbursement from going into effect.

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Undoubtedly, there are other special interest groups trying to get provisions included/excluded in the package, but it's hard to image there's another group other than the home medical equipment industry with more at stake.

It should be an interesting two to three weeks.