WASHINGTON, DC – As I leave DC after attending the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) 2019 Legislative Conference/lobbying week, I feel cautiously optimistic—which says a lot after making the trip each year for the past decade.
We had a small turnout from West Virginia, but overall the conference/Hill visits attracted strong numbers this year. Prior to the meetings, I found it energizing to just meet new colleagues and develop new friendships. We also had a great speaker from CMS who actually understood the issues we are facing. He truly seemed to want to help fix them—that alone was worth the trip.
Along with Jeanette Lancaster (Mon Healthcare Equipment) and Kevin Milam (The Billing Center), I headed to our appointments on the Hill. Even after 10 years of making the trip, I still have not found the best shoes for all the required walking. We started with Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) and reminded him again of our issues with competitive bidding and the rural classifications. This year we also had the WV Nurses Association reach out to us and offer any help they could give on this issue. They are concerned about the access issues they are seeing more and more frequently. Mon General Hospital, which is located in McKinley’s district, has also reached out to him on our behalf.
Our second visit was with Sen Shelley Capito (R-WV) and her staff, which is led by Dana Richter (Health Legislative Assistant [LS]). Richter’s father passed away a few years ago due to Pulmonary Fibrosis, and she truly understands the importance of what we do for those we serve. Richter and Capito have helped lead several joint bipartisan letters to CMS, and sign on to every bill on our behalf.
Next we met with Sen Joe Manchin (D-WV) and his staff, who has also been a champion for our cause. Sen Manchin is working to schedule a meeting for us with CMS Administrator Seema Verma, and also reaching out to his Senate colleagues to help get a Senate companion bill for HR 2771.
We ended our day with Rep Alex Mooney’s (R-WV) staff and meeting our newest member of Congress, Rep Carol Miller (R-WV). All bipartisan members of the West Virginia members of Congress sent another letter to CMS expressing their serious concerns related to access issues caused by competitive bidding.
Regina Gillispie is the owner of Best Medical Oxygen and Home Medical Equipment, Barboursville and Nitro, West Virginia. She is the 2018 recipient of the Van G. Miller Homecare Champion Award.