WASHINGTON, DC – Competitive bidding rural relief was not a part of last week’s Omnibus spending legislation package. The Medicaid “pay for” that the industry had targeted to help pay for rural relief legislation has been included in the Omnibus legislation, with a 2019 effective date.
“However, Capitol Hill sources tell us that there may be other Medicare-related legislation in early 2016,” said AAHomecare officials in a message to members, “as well as the continued opportunity to build support for our still-active Senate & House legislation on both of these issues in the coming year…Thanks very much for the tremendous level of support we’ve received from all quarters of the HME community on these issues. We want to assure the industry that this fight is far from over, and that we will be working with our Congressional champions on strategy to move these issues forward.”
Delay for CB Pricing on CRT Accessories Gets Congressional Approval
WASHINGTON, DC – Under a rare procedure to get a bill quickly considered by Congress, the The Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act (S 2425) was passed by both the Senate and House last week.
The bill includes a one-year delay on the application of Medicare competitive bid pricing to complex rehab technology (CRT) accessories used with Group 3 power wheelchairs, as well as other Medicare-related provisions being pushed by the physician community.
The bill was first passed by the Senate using what is called the “hotline” process. What this means is that once a bill is introduced and distributed, each Senator has 24 hours to object to it. A couple Senators did place holds on the bill initially, but advocates for the legislation, including AAHomecare members, were able to convince the final holdouts to release the bill.
On the House side, Congressman Tom Price (R-Ga) played a major role in keeping the House in session long enough for the bill to be quickly considered and passed by unanimous consent on the floor shortly after 1:00 pm.
“We appreciate the great support we received from AAHomecare members who called Senate offices yesterday to help get the bill approved under the hotline process,” said Jay Witter, AAHomecare senior vice president for Government Affairs. “This action will let us continue to advocate for S. 2196 and H.R. 3229, which would provide a longer term solution for CRT providers and patients.”
“We are excited to get this reprieve for complex rehab wheelchair providers,” added Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “This legislation will ensure that individuals with significant disabilities continue to receive the specialized technology they depend on while we continue to build support for a permanent fix that reaffirms the original Congressional intent to keep CRT accessories outside the purview of the bidding program.”
Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Roy Blunt (R-Mo), Ron Wyden (D-Ore), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo) led the effort in garnering Senate approval for the bill. Additional thanks are due for leaders from AAHomecare members, including Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of Government Relations, Invacare Corp; Seth Johnson, vice president of Government Affairs, Pride Mobility; along with AAHomecare board members, The Roho Group, and VGM & Associates, as well as the National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology (NCART), for their work generating support for this legislation on Capitol Hill.
Regulatory Council Meets in Washington, DC
WASHINGTON, DC – Last week the Regulatory Council convened for their quarterly meeting at AAHomecare’s DC headquarters. During the two-day meeting, the Council covered a variety of regulatory issues and drafted goals for 2016. The group also spent some time with Kim Brandt from the Senate Finance Committee and Laurence Wilson, the director of Chronic Care Policy at CMS.