Hope springs eternal


If I had to put a label on the mood here at the AAHomecare Washington Legislative Conference, I'd use hopeful. Attendees are hopeful, dare I say confident even, that Round 2 will be delayed long enough to get the market-pricing program (MPP) implemented.

That hope was buoyed by a couple of updates on the number of co-sponsors on H.R. 1717. At last count, it was 90 and there's no way that won't swell after today's Hill visits (yesterday's too).

Of course, the folks that attend this event year after year tend to be more "can-do" rather than "oh woe is me." At lunch, one of my table mates sat down and announced, "I just got hit with a  RAC audit this morning." But, as I said, these guys weren't crying into their mystery chicken. They commiserated (and I am sorry, but the fact that these onerous audits are now as commonplace a part of business as, say, asking what mobile carrier you use is just wrong), and then they moved on to other things.

Provider Scott Soderquist has lost track of how many times he's been to Washington, D.C. He's taking the time even as grandfathering letters go out to his patients (like so many providers, he didn't get a single contract). I asked him why.

"It's many reasons—some selfish," he said. "The consumer is really going to be blindsided. But, somehow or another, I still believe Round 2 will be at least delayed. I can't see how it can't."

Delay is a big word around here this week. If he hasn't already, Rep. Glen Thompson, R-Pa., plans to introduce a bill to delay the program. Attendees will ask lawmakers to sponsor that, as well as H.R. 1717.

And there's no more pussyfooting around the issue, either.

"We need to start calling this a crisis," providekr Wayne Sale told me. "It's not a bidding issue any longer. It's a crisis. It's the only way they will listen to us."

And lawmakers will listen, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., told attendees yesterday afternoon. While licensure--or lack thereof--remains a hot issue, providers really need to get the patients or the caregivers to call.

"Inundate them with calls," said Price. "Inundate doesn't mean thousands. It means 20."

With July 1 right around the corner, things are tight. But, as Price said in closing:

"July 1st doesn't mean we'll just give up."