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HME industry under strain

HME industry under strain

Tom RyanWASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders have been reaching out to policymakers to highlight the “disastrous” impacts of the recent Change Healthcare cyberattack, which piled cash flow concerns on top of low reimbursement issues. 

“This is a low margin industry and some of these smaller to mid-sized companies don’t have the balance sheet (to sustain themselves for very long) and they have tough choices to make,” said Tom Ryan, president & CEO of AAHomecare. “They’ve got to get a loan or see if vendors will hold off on collections or figure out payroll.” 

CMS has announced a number of flexibilities in the wake of the cyberattack, including the ability to file for advance payments

But AAHomecare is reaching out to congressional leadership and senior staff at CMS to make the case for additional measures, like the relief provided through paycheck protection loans during the COVID-19 pandemic and the expansion of the Section 1135 waiver beyond the more typical definitions of disasters. 

“Beyond the pandemic and inclement weather, things like cybersecurity should be something that requires the 1135 waivers,” Ryan said. “This was very much a disaster.” 

At the same time, stakeholders are also looking for new opportunities to pass H.R. 5555 and S. 1295, legislation that would extend the 75/25 Medicare blended reimbursement rate in non-bid areas through 2024. At press time, lawmakers were racing to pass a $1.2 trillion spending package, but it didn’t include any HME-related provisions. 

“I think there is the pressure of getting some kind of a health care package through,” said Jay Witter, senior vice president of government relations for AAHomecare. “There’s some larger bills out there that will be the driver, but we’re trying to link up with some of the smaller bills to get strong bipartisan support.” 

While AAHomecare has generated 8,100 letters through its Voter Voice program, what’s really needed is for people to call the health legislative assistants and press their case, stakeholders say. The crux of that case: HME saves money and improves care, says Mike “Ike” Isaacson, senior vice president of government relations at VGM & Associates. 

“We need to prioritize our industry, not as a product delivery system – we get caught up in that sometimes – but the service part of it,” he said. “We’re the eyes in the home. We need to tell our story in new and inventive ways until it resonates.” 


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