Event Coverage

Mobility/Rehab Suppliers Back Hobson-Tanner Bill on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — H.R. 3559, more commonly known as the Hobson-Tanner bill, took center stage on June 19-20, as some 81 companies and 131 attendees spoke up for home care at the American Association for Homecare's (AAHomecare) Legislative Fly-In on Capitol Hill.

On the morning of June 20, attendees separated by table into state teams at the morning's send-off breakfast. Each team received a list of appointments with senators, representatives and legislative counsel for its particular state.

Congressman and physician Joe Schwarz (R-Mich.) was the keynote speaker at AAHomecare's breakfast gathering before HME suppliers marched on Capitol Hill.

"We can win this if we commit to action," said Tom Ryan, AAHomecare chairman and president/CEO of Homecare Concepts, Farmingdale, N.Y. "Let's put our boots on the ground and march to the Hill."

H.R. 3559 is designed to ease the pain of competitive bidding by:

  • protecting patients by requiring that competitive bidding not begin until quality standards are in place.
  • exempting smaller, rural areas (Metropolitan Statistical Areas with populations under 500,000).
  • restoring the rights of participating providers to administrative and judicial review.
  • exempting items and services unless savings of at least 10 percent can be demonstrated.

Speaking to U.S. Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Colin Fairley, owner of Adapt Mobility in Garland, Texas, said, "Instead of creating competition, competitive bidding — the way it is now — will create a monopoly, and it will hurt the service component of the business if one or two providers exclusively have to take care of a wide area."

"We are on board with competitive bidding, but we want providers to be able to compete," explained Wes Cragg, manager of Premier Medical Mobility Center, Richardson, Texas. "If you have one or two providers chosen exclusively, it takes away the business from the smaller providers and hurts patient choice. H.R. 3559 will refine competitive bidding."

Rep. Hensarling indicated that he would review the bills as outlined by AAHomecare in a legislative packet to determine if he'd lend his support.

Attendees also lobbied for improving the method used to set power mobility fee schedules; exempting power chairs from competitive bidding; and monitoring the 61 new power mobility codes to ensure access to medically appropriate equipment. But competitive bidding drew the largest share of attention during the fly-in.

"When you eliminate providers, you eliminate choices to beneficiaries," Fairley pointed out. "Competitive bidding is restrictive if it excludes providers. The main reason people get into this business is because something has touched them in regard to caring for a family, friend, a loved one, etc. Why doesn't CMS consider the human factor?"

This article originally appeared in the August 2006 issue of Mobility Management.

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