WASHINGTON, DC – AAHomecare’s Tom Ryan and Jay Witter were on Capitol Hill this week for meetings with several legislators, as well as staffers on key committees of jurisdiction for healthcare finance issues. Building support for H.R. 6641 and working with Senate contacts on approaches to preserve the current 75/25 blended rate for non-rural, non-CBA suppliers beyond the end of the Public Health Emergency (PHE) were priorities for these meetings.
“Our champions on Capitol Hill understand the need for aligning Medicare reimbursement rates with market realities, and they understand the urgency for getting this relief,” observed Ryan. “The next few months will be critical for building more support on this issue.”
See our Medicare Reimbursement Campaign Central page for messaging and guidance on engaging your Representatives on H.R. 6641.
Omnibus Legislation Extends Telehealth Measures
Language to extend Telehealth flexibilities created during the pandemic for five months beyond the end of the COVID-19 PHE was included in the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill that passed Congress last week. As a result, waivers that allow for telehealth to replace in-person evaluations and for physical therapists and occupational therapists to conduct telehealth sessions will remain in place after the PHE to allow a smooth transition for healthcare providers and patients. While the PHE is currently in place until Apr. 16, most observers anticipate at least one more extension through mid-July. Under that scenario, the telehealth waivers would remain in effect into December 2022.
AAHomecare supported increasing the use of telehealth as part of our policy recommendations to CMS to help HME providers better serve patients during the pandemic.
Woundcare Legislation Would Reduce Administrative Burdens on NWPT Providers
Home health agencies have struggled with challenges stemming from CMS’ implementation of the home health benefit for negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) products, including:
- Requiring that charges for disposable NPWT be submitted to CMS on a billing form that is rarely used by the industry, and for which standard billing software is not adequately designed,
- Reporting requirements that mandate a nurse’s time spent applying disposable NPWT be recorded separately from time caring for a patient’s other conditions, and
- Confusion as to whether home health agencies receive credit for a home health visit when applying disposable NPWT, just as they would when applying the traditional DME alternative.
AAHomecare has registered support for the Better Wound Care at Home Act(s), Senate (S. 2363) and House (H.R. 2356) bills that would resolve these administrative burdens that make it difficult for Medicare beneficiaries to get access to disposable negative pressure wound therapy at home. We will keep the HME community apprised of any requests for grassroots outreach from the bills’ principal sponsors, Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) as well as Reps. G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.).
AAHomecare Urges Continuation of Medicare Sequester Pause
AAHomecare joined with fifty other major healthcare groups in a Feb. 28 letter to Congressional leaders seeking an extenstion of the current moratorium on the two-percent Medicare sequester to the end of the PHE. Without further action, the sequester will resume at a one-percent rate for April through June of this year, and increase to two percent starting July 1, 2022. A continued pause to the sequester would be welcome relief for HME suppliers and other healthcare providers who are facing rising product and operational costs.