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Stakeholders push for comments on bid-related IFR

Stakeholders push for comments on bid-related IFR CMS refers to comments all the time, says VGMs Gallagher

WATERLOO, Iowa - With only two weeks left until a July 9 deadline, a paltry 56 comments have been submitted in response to a competitive bidding-related interim final rule.

“And we wonder why (nothing changes),” John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for VGM, told attendees at last week's Heartland Conference. “CMS refers to comments all the time. Take the time when you get back to your office to do the comments.”

The IFR, published in the May 11 Federal Register, reinstates 50/50 blended reimbursement rates, but only from June 1, 2018, to Dec. 31, 2018, instead of retroactively from Jan. 1, 2017, and only in rural and non-contiguous CBAs instead of all non-bid areas.

No one should be sitting on the sidelines at this point in the game, says Jay Witter, senior vice president of public policy for AAHomecare.

“This IFR goes far beyond relief in rural areas,” he said. “For the first time, CMS has acknowledged there are problems. They are agreeing with us.”

Industry stakeholders continue to press lawmakers for bid relief. In addition to ramping up the number of co-sponsors for H.R. 4229, they're also seeking to introduce a Senate companion bill ahead of the August recess.

To boost their efforts, VGM is launching two new surveys in the coming weeks, a cost-shifting survey and a delivery cost survey, says Gallagher.

“We want to know what your cost is to send that vehicle out of the gate,” he said.

Stakeholders are also keeping an eye on an upcoming proposed rule, CY 2019 Changes to the End-Stage Renal Disease Prospective Payment System, that is expected to be released just ahead of the July 4 holiday.

“Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan has said changes are coming,” said Witter. “The ESRD is the most viable vehicle for those changes. If that doesn't happen, we will have to go back to Congress.”

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