More than one-third of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives have come together to ask Federal regulators to enact policy reforms to protect Medicare beneficiary access to essential home medical equipment (HME) products and related services. In their letter to leaders of the Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), 154 House members affirm their support for structural reforms for the Medicare competitive bidding program for HME; relief for providers in non-competitive bid areas; relief for Complex Rehab Technology accessories; and for rolling back recent additional oxygen concentrator reimbursement cuts in rural areas.
“We’re heartened by this overwhelming show of Congressional support for major HME policy reforms,” said Tom Ryan, president & CEO of the American Association for Homecare. “When a large, bipartisan segment of the House comes together to ask for specific and substantial measures like the ones in this letter, it sends a very strong message that action is needed soon.”
“This strong showing is a testament to effective leadership of Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) and Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) in marshalling support for the letter on Capitol Hill,” adds Ryan. “The HME community and the patients we serve are fortunate to have committed and passionate champions like these on our side.”
“The timing on this letter is critical,” continues Ryan. “As leading economists predicted when the bidding program was first proposed, this badly-designed price-setting system has driven prices down to unsustainable levels. What’s more, the application of these prices to non-bid areas has proven to be ruinous to providers in rural America, as well as for companies serving TRICARE beneficiaries and other payors who base their rates on the new fee schedule. If we don’t start to see real progress on addressing problems with reimbursement rates for HME this year, we’ll see even more companies either quit serving Medicare beneficiaries or close up shop altogether.”
“Finally, I’d like to thank the HME community for their passionate and persistent follow-ups to get their Representatives on board,” Ryan said. “These extra efforts by AAHomecare members and other HME stakeholders are what made the difference in getting such a high number of legislators on board.”
The American Association for Homecare represents durable medical equipment providers, manufacturers, and others in the homecare community that serve the medical needs of millions of Americans who require oxygen systems, wheelchairs, medical supplies, inhalation drug therapy, and other medical equipment and services in their homes. Members operate more than 3,000 homecare locations in all 50 states. Visit www.aahomecare.org.
Gordon Barnes, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.372.0759