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'We need a lifesaver,’ stakeholders say

'We need a lifesaver,’ stakeholders say

Jay WitterWASHINGTON – A continuing resolution to fund the government is expected to pass without any of the industry’s legislative initiatives, but stakeholders are looking ahead to the end of the year, with a boost from the Sept. 21 AAHomecare Virtual Washington Legislative Conference

Those initiatives include H.R. 6641, a bill that would implement a blended reimbursement rate based 90% on bid pricing and 10% on the 2015 fee schedule and would extend a 75/25 blended rate for non-bid, non-rural areas that’s in place through the end of the public health emergency as part of the CARES Act.    

“As we talk throughout the year, we are preparing for those opportunities for H.R. 6641 and the extension of the CARES Act relief,” said Jay Witter, vice president of government relations for AAHomecare. “I think we’re getting to the point where the bill is in discussion for an end of the year package.” 

Pushing behind the scenes are key supporters like Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Reps. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., and Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., who spearheaded H.R. 6641. Despite bipartisan support, the bill, introduced in February, has struggled to gain co-sponsors and is sitting at 20. 

Stakeholders also continue to press their case with key committees of jurisdiction, including the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, most recently during legislative conference, which drew 158 participants who met with more than 240 offices. 

“I have heard nothing but positive feedback,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO. “People were understanding of our issues and (participants) were very well prepared and were able to talk with passion.” 

With providers getting squeezed by a different market reality than they faced several years ago, when the Medicare fee schedule was last adjusted, the pressure is on to get relief in place, says Ryan. 

“Look at the challenges we have today and we’re looking at a 30% decrease,” he said. “We need to figure out how to make (relief) permanent. We need that lifesaver, or we’ll see more closures. Talk about a headwind.”


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