Lobbyist to CELA attendees: 'Refute these three things'


A Washington, D.C., healthcare lobbyist spelled out what industry stakeholders must do to get a separate benefit for complex rehab during a presentation at CELA on Wednesday.

Jennifer Higgins, a principal at Capitol Health Group who counts Invacare as one of her clients, told a crowd of attendees that they must dispel the following misconceptions about the industry: that they're equipment jockeys, that they commit fraud and that they're overpaid.

"You need to refute these three things," she said. "Because that's what (congressional) staffers will be thinking in the back of their minds."

As part of CELA, attendees will make more than 200 visits to lawmakers. Their single goal: To garner support for draft legislation for a separate benefit for complex rehab.

Higgins had these tips for providers: Help lawmakers understand what you do each day and remind them that complex rehab represents a very small piece of the Medicare pie. She also told them to be patient, because the process of getting legislation introduced and passed is long and hard.

It's no small task, but Higgins likes stakeholders' chances. They've already succeeded in getting complex rehab exempted from Round 1 of competitive bidding and the elimination of the first-month purchase option.

"(This) indicates greater awareness on complex rehab than ever before," she said.

And while Higgins doesn't expect lawmakers to get much done in the first part of this year, there are two bills that they will take up before the end of the year that will serve as good vehicles for legislation on a separate benefit for complex rehab: a budget for 2012 and a "doc fix."

"You want to have everything in a neat box and come fall, you need to be ready to make that move," she said. "When the train leaves the station, you want to be the first person on the train."

Liz Beaulieu


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