WASHINGTON, DC – There was a lot of excitement across the industry as people learned of President-elect Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and it’s understandable.
Representative Tom Price (R-Ga) has been a strong champion of the HME industry over his six terms in Congress, and has spent considerable time and effort trying to make meaningful improvements to the Medicare DME competitive bidding program, and provide substantive payment relief for providers serving rural areas.
So what can and will Chairman Price do in his new position? The facts are important. This is the first time that any incoming HHS Secretary has had a solid understanding of our HME industry and its value in the overall health care system.
Dr. Price is well versed in the current Medicare DME bidding program (its mechanics, operations and flaws), and has spent a half dozen years trying to make substantive improvements to the program through his detailed Market Pricing Program legislative proposal that is based upon specific recommendations by auction economists and is modeled on real world successful auctions around the world.
As HHS Secretary, Dr. Price’s responsibilities will include not just the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), but also the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and about five more agencies. Price will have many priorities on his “to do” list.
Finally, the Secretary must act within the constraints of the law (but on many of our issues, the law is not very detailed). Therefore, we are well ahead of where we have been with any other incoming Administration, but we will be competing with many others in the health care community for his attention and priority. It’s a great first step to welcome Dr. Price to his new position, but we certainly have lots of work to do.
Cara C. Bachenheimer is senior vice president, Government Relations, Invacare Corp.