New MPP Bill Launched in House

Senior members of the House Ways and Means Committee Rep. Tom Price, M.D. (R-Ga.), and Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) have introduced H.R. 1717, a bill that would repeal the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) competitive bidding program and replace it with the industry's Market Pricing Program (MPP).

Called the Medicare DMEPOS Market Pricing Program Act of 2013, the bill would amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to have the MPP determine prices for home medical equipment. The MPP was developed from the input of various experts, including that from 240 economists. Among those economists are two Nobel laureates with expertise in bid models and game theory, and they have opposed CMS's program in letters to CMS, Congress and President Obama. In addition to the economists, various industry and patient groups have voice their support of the MPP.

"The market-based approach advocated by Rep. Price is supported by numerous patient advocacy groups, as well as by the homecare industry," says Joel D. Marx, chairman of Medical Service Company (Cleveland) and of the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) board of directors. "It guarantees that patients will continue to have full access to home medical equipment services in a timely, competitive manner while assuring Medicare and taxpayers of the savings that are greatly needed in this era of unbalanced government budgets."

H.R. 1717 follows 2012's H.R. 6490, which proposed to do the same, but lapsed without passage at the end of the 112th Congress. Industry associations, advocates, providers and other stakeholders have been patiently waiting for the new version to launch.

Now, as providers ready themselves to visit Capitol Hill at the AAHomecare's Washington Legislative Conference, slated for May 22-23, they have the "ask" they needed for their meetings with lawmakers.

"H.R. 1717 will ensure that Medicare achieves its goal of reimbursing for home medical equipment using a market-based price," said Tyler J. Wilson, president of AAHomecare. "At the same time, the legislation will create the framework for a well-structured auction program that avoids the significant failures of the current program. The Price proposal presents a better system for beneficiary access to quality care, and it will create an improved business environment for companies that provide home medical equipment."

A Race Against the Clock?

That said, providers face some tough timing in regards to fighting on behalf of H.R. 1717. With round 2 reimbursement rates and contract holders announced, CMS's bidding program is approaching its targeted implementation in July. CMS does not necessarily have to meet that target date, but it represents a short timeline nonetheless.

If providers are unable to accomplish passage of H.R. 1717 by round 2's rollout, they will have to work on behalf of the bill while contending with a new financial reality under CMS's program. Currently, the bill has 25 co-sponsors.

"Time is of the essence," said Wayne Stanfield, president/CEO of the National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers. "We must gain at least 219 cosponsors as quickly as possible to assure this bill is passed or attached to another bill that will be passed. This is the path to stop the bidding program that will devastate our industry."

About the Author

David Kopf is the Editor of HME Business.

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