WASHINGTON, DC – After more than two decades of reimbursement cuts for HME, going back to a Medicare 25% cut for home oxygen in 1998, continuing through other healthcare cost-cutting legislation and bidding program results, the HME community may finally be ready to stand on stable ground. Changes to the bidding program methodology, including measures to exclude unqualified bidders, and a better-prepared supplier community will hopefully result in more sustainable rates when SPAs for Round 2021 are finally announced next Summer.
In the meantime, AAHomecare and other industry stakeholders are continuing to work together on range of issues at both federal and state levels: improving Medicare reimbursement rates for non-bid areas, keeping non-invasive ventilators out of the bidding program, maintaining access to CRT, reforming outdated stationary oxygen reimbursement policy, pushing back against overly burdensome audit requirements, fighting proposed Medicaid cuts in multiple states, and keeping provider access networks open with MCOs.
Our industry has had some significant successes in these areas over the past few years, and I’m proud that the AAHomecare team has played a major role in these efforts. But I’m even more gratified by the way that the HME community has pulled together to put our future on a better path. There’s a lot of smart, talented, and passionate leaders in this industry who are making a difference for HME; you can see a great example of one such individual in the next story.
Major industry stakeholder groups VGM, CQRC, and NCART have been terrific partners in helping make sure that the HME industry presents a unified front on major policy initiatives on Capitol Hill and at CMS. State and regional associations, led by some of the most passionate staff and volunteer leaders in HME, have grown the advocacy capacity of our industry to influence Congress, as well as state legislative and regulatory bodies.
Individuals from every corner of this industry who are a part of AAHomecare – suppliers of every size, manufacturers, distributors, billing and legal consultants, and other service providers – all play a major role. Your financial support is essential, and your involvement in the Association, whether through legislative advocacy or service on councils and work groups that drive AAHomecare policy, is a critical component of efforts to improve the business, legislative and regulatory environment for HME.
Finally, I’d like to acknowledge the many companies and groups that go even further above-and-beyond these impressive contributions. Our corporate partners provide additional funds beyond the regular dues schedule, demonstrating an exceptional commitment to the future of this industry. VGM, CQRC, and the Healthcare Nutrition Council have also joined AAHomecare in preparing for Round 2021 in supporting the comprehensive and highly popular DMECBPEducation.com bidding resource. Another group of other companies has funded research and message development efforts to help AAHomecare refresh our branding and refocus membership recruitment efforts with an end goal of growing the size and impact of the Association.
The contributions and commitment from across the country, from every part of the HME community, have helped this industry weather two decades of relentless reimbursement cuts and finally secure some relief and hope for the future. We’re better prepared for Round 2021 and the challenges ahead because of you – and because we’re stronger together.
Strengthening our Ties with HME Patient Groups
There’s one other important resource that supports HME public policy priorities on Capitol Hill and at CMS: strong relationships with patient advocacy groups that represent millions of individuals who rely on our products and services. These groups have been a force multiplier on major legislative and regulatory initiatives, most recently exemplified by very strong support from dozens of groups for keeping non-invasive ventilators out of the bidding program.
Funds raised through our Stand Up for Homecare receptions at Medtrade and Medtrade Spring help us support organizations including the ITEM Coalition, United Spinal Association, and the National Council on Independent Living that are passionate and highly credible advocates for patient access to HME. Maintaining and strengthening relationships with these groups is critical to our policy efforts.
If you’re joining us at Medtrade in Atlanta, I hope you’ll consider attending and supporting the event – or by joining the roster of event sponsors. See more details on the upcoming Stand Up for Homecare reception below.
Tom Ryan is president and CEO of AAHomecare.