Senate Passes Rural Relief Bill for DME Providers, But House Bill Stalls

S. 2736, known as the Patient Access to Durable Medical Equipment Act, has passed the U.S. Senate – a significant step toward becoming law.

The American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) announced that the bill passed “via unanimous consent.”

Among the key points of the bill are a one-year postponement of a second Medicare funding cut for DME provided in non-competitive bidding areas, and a requirement that bid ceilings be derived from rates in effect on July 1, 2016, rather than being derived from pricing in previous rounds.

The bill also requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to factor in such variables as travel costs, volume, clearing prices and the number of DME suppliers serving Medicare beneficiaries in a bid area when setting prices for competitive bidding rounds in January 2019 and later, AAHomecare said.

AAHomecare CEO/President Tom Ryan thanked Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) for introducing the bill in March and championing its cause.

“Sen. Thune and Sen. Heitkamp deserve a great deal of credit for their leadership in passing legislation that is critically needed by home medical equipment suppliers and the millions of patients they serve,” Ryan said. “This bill will pause a new round of Medicare reimbursement cuts that will impact rural communities throughout the country so that Congress can get a better picture of the effects of previous deep reductions that went into effect on Jan. 1.”

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) introduced the companion House bill, H.R. 5210, in May. On June 23, AAHomecare sent stakeholders a bulletin saying the House’s unexpectedly early recess till after July 4 – as a result of a Democratic sit-in over gun control issues – had likely derailed any hopes of getting H.R. 5210 passed prior to the July 1 implementation date.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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