by Tom Ryan

Speaking at AAHomecare's "Washington Update" at Medtrade Spring almost two months ago, I reported on recent legislative successes by noting that the credibility and influence of the Association is at an all-time high on Capitol Hill, and that we have more champions in Congress today than we've ever had. While I'm proud of the great work of our team of lobbyists and regulatory affairs specialists who interface with Hill and CMS staffers on a daily basis, our effectiveness in Washington rests on a foundation of engaged HME leaders from around the country who are making the case for our industry directly. Whether by joining the thousands of individuals who have answered our challenge to send emails or call their representatives on the Hill, or by meeting your representatives at back-home events or district office meetings, or by hosting a facility tour, these efforts have gone a long way to demonstrate the great work you do on behalf of your communities, as well as challenges HME providers face on a daily basis. HME professionals can also take part in the fight by joining hundreds of their peers at this year's AAHomecare Washington Legislative Conference, May 20-21, at the Washington Court Hotel, located on the Senate side of Capitol Hill in Washington. Your participation in the conference provides the additional "boots on the ground" we need to make the case for better HME policies. With the streamlined conference schedule, day one will provide the issue education and guidance needed for effective meetings with legislators, and the second day is reserved for meetings on Capitol Hill arranged by AAHomecare. Many individuals are able to participate with just one night's stay in D.C., depending on travel schedules. Also, as we need participation from all quarters of our industry, the conference is open to all HME providers, whether you're an AAHomecare member or not. I can't overstate the impact of personal, face-to-face meetings on our legislative efforts. They help us boost co-sponsorship figures on priority legislation, and have helped us build important relationships with members who have become strong advocates for HME. Our success in getting binding bids legislation passed in the House of Representatives this spring is an example of the value of these efforts. Last year's strong presence on Capitol Hill helped build support for similar legislation that made a strong impression on congressional leaders, who moved HR 284 to the front of the list for committee and House floor consideration in March. At the legislative conference, we will also continue to lay the groundwork to fight back against CMS plans to implement bidding-based rates for HME products nationwide. In addition, you'll have a chance to advocate for legislation to reform Medicare audit contractor programs by increasing transparency within the program, providing better supplier education and lessening scrutiny on suppliers that have low error rates on audited claims. Attendees can also support efforts to create a prior approval process for HME that exempts suppliers from audits if they receive prior approval, and advocate for legislation to make the power mobility prior authorization demo project permanent and nationwide. Providers in the power mobility space will also have the chance to make their case for complex rehab separate benefit legislation. We need a strong turnout to take advantage of all of the legislative opportunities and issues we potentially in play in this congressional session. If you've been on the fence about the conference, or it' been a while since you've taken part, this is the year. We need you in D.C. Visit for more information.