Industry Seeks Support for House Sign-On Letter

Industry organizations including NCART and the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) are seeking support for a sign-on letter aimed at the U.S. House of Representatives.

The letter asks for reform in four areas critical to complex rehab and home medical equipment and will be sent to U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price and CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

According to a May 22 bulletin sent by NCART Executive Director Don Clayback, the letter asks for relief for Medicare non-competitive bid areas; reforms to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) competitive bidding program; relief for complex rehab technology accessories; and restoration of oxygen rates in rural Medicare areas.

The letter effort is being led by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). Five other representatives — Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) — co-signed the original letter.

“We need to deliver a strong showing of signatures on the letter this week,” Clayback said in his bulletin. “This will make a powerful impression on HHS and CMS as they consider recent input on these issues from AAHomecare, NCART and other stakeholders.”

AAHomecare’s annual Legislative Conference, which includes advocacy visits on Capitol Hill, takes place this week.

In part, the letter to Price and Verma says, “While we strongly support CMS saving money for the American taxpayers, the agency should not make significant reductions at the expense of beneficiaries and shift cost to institutional and clinical care.” The letter also notes, “Over numerous years, CMS has made significant policy and regulatory changes that have resulted in significant reductions in reimbursement. We are concerned that these reductions may have caused access issues for Medicare beneficiaries and shifted costs to other areas of Medicare.”

In the complex rehab technology (CRT) niche, the letter notes that CRT is used only “by a small population of people with high levels of disabilities” and that CRT was therefore excluded from the Medicare competitive bidding program by the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008.

But the sign-on letter adds that CMS has “stated its intent” to use competitive bidding pricing information to reduce payments for CRT wheelchair accessories.

“We are concerned with CMS’s interpretation that resulted in the cuts, and urge you to use your authority to stop these dramatic cuts, which may reduce access to CRT accessories for patients who rely on these tools in their day-to-day lives,” the letter says.

In an update to members last week, AAHomecare said it was hoping more than 150 representatives would sign on to show strong support for the issues mentioned in the letter.

Click HERE to read the full letter.

Click HERE to ask your representative to sign on.

About the Author

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

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