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Rising costs and stagnant reimbursements are squeezing HME suppliers

Rising costs and stagnant reimbursements are squeezing HME suppliers “The value proposition for HME has never been stronger.”

That’s a phrase I’ve used repeatedly over the last year-and-a-half in interviews, op-eds, and discussions with policymakers and HME leaders. As AAHomecare continues the aggressive national media outreach campaign we started this year, and also engages Capitol Hill and CMS to secure much-needed and long-overdue adjustments to Medicare reimbursement rates, I know I’ll have ample opportunity to continue to point out HME’s essential contributions to meeting the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While HME professionals (and everyone else) will rejoice when COVID-19 finally fades into the background, our industry will still face significant headwinds. The international supply chain crisis impacting a broad range of industries, including HME, continues apace. Shipping container costs are partly to blame for these dramatic spikes. Since the pandemic began, the cost of these containers has risen over 1,200%. There is simply not enough capacity to meet demand. 

As a result, availability decreases and costs go up for components and materials that go into the full scope of HME products. Add in the costs of new operational requirements required to keep both patients and employees safe, including increased use of gloves and other personal protective equipment, and suppliers remain caught in the vice of these higher costs and Medicare rates that are largely unmoved since 2016, except for nominal CPI adjustments. 

No matter their size, specialty or geographic location, suppliers I speak with tell me they’re feeling the pain. Medicare reimbursement rates – and, in many cases, other rates they influence across the payer spectrum – don’t reflect the market reality our industry faces. 

Going all-in on sustainable reimbursement policy 

As we enter the last three months of the 2021 legislative year, it’s critical that we effectively contrast the proven value of HME, now evident more than ever, against Medicare reimbursement rates that don’t reflect that value. Considering our contributions to battling the pandemic over the last 18 months, coupled with CMS’s decision to forego results from Round 2021 for most HME products because bid results did not meet “expected savings,” we have a unique opportunity to make the case for meaningful reform on reimbursement rates. 

AAHomecare has laid the groundwork for this effort by engaging a media relations firm to reinforce and expand the reach of our messages on the value of home care and the crucial need for realistic reimbursement policy. And, in August of this year, we brought in the Nickles Group, a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm with well-regarded Capitol Hill veterans on staff, strengthening our roster of public policy consultants and our ability to engage Congress, CMS and other federal agencies involved in health care policy.  

The timing for this campaign will never be better than it is today. We need to be all-in as an industry like never before to convince policymakers to recognize the value of HME and the cost and business operating environment we face today. While we are also making the case for sustainable reimbursements to the new leadership at HHS and CMS, I am convinced that the road to higher rates will, ultimately, run through Capitol Hill. 

We need you in the fight 

Whether you’re an experienced advocate for HME or if you’re interested in getting involved in the fight for government policies that allow us to better serve our patients and communities, we need you to lend your voice to this effort. Even a simple email to the health care staffer for your senators and representatives talking about the challenges you face under current reimbursement rates and a request that they support policies to fix outdated rates helps the effort.   

AAHomecare’s advocacy tools and messages are available to everyone at You can find the latest updates and messaging on Medicare reimbursement and other policy priorities, issue briefs from our recent Virtual Washington Legislative Conference, and tools to help you connect with your representatives on Capitol Hill. 

Almost every aspect of what our industry provides helps people avoid needed hospital, nursing-care and long-term care facilities. The individuals HME serves include some of the most vulnerable patient cohorts and provides support to clinicians and peace of mind to families and caregivers in every community in America.   

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, it is more evident than ever that we need to build our capacity to provide effective home-based care. We need policymakers to understand the need to invest in home medical equipment and home-based care. 

Most of all, we need YOU to add your voice to the fight – now, more than ever.  The value proposition for HME has never been stronger, and the stakes have never been higher. Learn more about us at 

Tom Ryan is the president and CEO of AAHomecare.






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