WASHINGTON, D.C. – Efforts to extend and expand Medicare reimbursement relief for HME suppliers in 2024 took a step forward with the House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee’s recent vote to approve H.R. 5555.
The vote came just two days after the well-timed Virtual Hill Day and the related deliberation by subcommittee members which included comments that underscore the impact of sustained grassroots advocacy. Speaking in support of the bill, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) noted that he had just heard from constituents on the measure. Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) forcefully advocated for the bill at length, describing “a critical access issue for the people that I represent in Southwestern Central Indiana” and adding, “I hear almost daily about this issue.”
In all, the third Hill Day of the year reached 90 members of Congress, with a focus on members on House and Senate committees of jurisdiction on healthcare finance issues, as well as connecting with several offices we had not met with in previous events. All told, our advocates have had about 430 meetings over our three legislative events this year (two virtual and one in-person).
Government Funding Deal Extends The Debate
Two weeks ago saw the House of Representatives, under a new Speaker, pass legislation to keep the government funded beyond Nov. 17. That appropriations extension bill set new deadlines to pass separate appropriation legislation buckets on Jan. 19 and Feb. 2, 2024. The Senate and the President followed with their approval.
This means that an appropriate legislative vehicle for provisions from S. 1294 and/or H.R. 5555 will likely not move until near the applicable Jan. 19 or Feb. 2, 2024 deadlines noted above. While either of these two dates are possible, Committees and leaders are working toward addressing health care extenders and other priorities in the Jan. 19 vehicle. If enacted in January or February, we would expect the measures to apply retroactively for services provided starting on Jan. 1.
More Opportunity for Advocacy
While a faster timeline for action would make for a happier New Year for HME stakeholders, the move to extend the timeline for Omnibus healthcare legislation into next year gives us more time to follow up with your legislators in December and into the early weeks of January. Your advocacy is making an impression even amidst the staggering volume of political and policy issues that vie for attention on Capitol Hill.
And we’ll need more of it in the weeks ahead to bring home another substantial win for the HME community, as well as for the millions of patients and caregivers we support.