Moving the HME Industry Forward

Legislative/Advocacy

VGM Action Item Makes it Easy to Support Rural Relief and CRT Measures

December 14, 2015

WATERLOO, IA – The VGM Group is encouraging political action by sponsoring an Action Item Banner on www.medtrade.com. Click on the banner above, or Click Here to go to the VGM DC Link and lend your voice to the cause.  

“We encourage our Medtrade Monday readers to take a minute to Take Action by clicking VGM’s Banner Ad directly in, and above, this article,” says Kevin Gaffney, group show director, Medtrade. “The landing page makes it easy to message Congress about the two bills currently proposed in the House and Senate. AAHomecare also has several quick and convenient ways to contact Congress. Go to action.aahomecare.org to access the AAHomecare resources.”

On Jan 1, 2016, Medicare will expand the competitive bidding program to rural America. Urge your legislators to support S. 2312 (in the Senate) and H.R. 4185 (in the House) to protect access to HME.

“The passion and persistence from every part of the HME community has
truly made all the difference in getting competitive bidding rural
relief and CRT accessories legislation to the point where they are
getting serious consideration in the omnibus spending bill,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of the American Association for Homecare. “We need to
keep the pressure on and mobilize everyone we can to continue to call,
email, and even tweet their members of Congress in support of these
bills as negotiations go down to the wire.”

Stop Cuts to Complex Rehab Equipment
On Jan 1, 2016, Medicare will expand the competitive bidding program to include Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) accessories. Urge your legislator to protect access to complex rehab technology by supporting S. 2196 (in the Senate) and H.R. 3229 (in the House) to exclude CRT accessories from this harmful program.

AAHomecare is Also Offering Several Outlets to Get the Message to Congress
Send a letter to Congress here in support of S. 2312 and similar forthcoming House legislation on rural relief under the competitive bidding program.   
Send a letter to Congress here in support of H.R. 3229 and S. 2196, legislation to exclude complex rehab technology accessories from competitive bidding program. 

Please follow up your letters with a call to your Senators and Representative.

You can also ask for the name and email address of the individual who handles healthcare legislation, and follow up with an email of your own. For the rural bidding issue, you can include language (or link to) this recent letter of support and our from AAHomecare and other leading industry stakeholders and HME Associations, as well as our related issue brief. For CRT accessories, you may find this updated issue brief useful.

Study Concludes – Rural Medicare Beneficiaries will Lose Access to HME on Jan 1
WATERLOO, IA – Medicare beneficiaries, individuals with disabilities, and veterans in rural states will have to drive farther to obtain prescribed home medical equipment beginning Jan. 1, 2016. A recent study completed by the GeoTree Center at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, concluded that rural residents in Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin will now have to travel further to reach an HME supplier.

The study was the continuation of an earlier study in August that showed similar outcomes for five other rural states. The table of information below derived from both studies summarizes the details of HME coverage following the reimbursement cuts.

The release of the study comes just as members of the U.S. Senate and House weigh legislation that would grant relief to hundreds of providers in rural areas expecting reimbursement cuts of up to 45 percent on Jan. 1. The cuts scheduled are the continuation of the phased Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Bidding program that has been criticized widely for using flawed bidding procedures, resulting in widespread business closures since 2007. In this phase, competitively bid rates in urban areas will be expanded to rural ones.

“HME suppliers in rural areas contend with different business challenges such as the cost of delivery and smaller patient volume that are not accounted for in this across the board cut,” said John Gallagher, vice president-government relations, for VGM Group, Inc., which commissioned the study. “Businesses will be put in dire situations, forcing coverage reduction or even closures. Naturally, when there are fewer providers, patient access suffers, hospital discharges are delayed, which costs the government more money.”

In the past six years, there has been a 17% reduction of suppliers throughout the U.S., a direct result of the competitive bidding program. Medicare beneficiaries and their HME suppliers are holding out that S. 2312, the DME Access and Stabilization Act of 2015 and H.R. 4185, the Protecting Access through Competitive Pricing Transition Act of 2015 will be included in the 2015 Omnibus Spending packages, set for vote next week.  

“It’s urgent that people in rural states speak out to their elected officials to stop the expansion of the Medicare competitive bidding program that will devastate rural health care,” said Gallagher.