Thoughts were shared at Medtrade Spring 2017

LAS VEGAS (March 1, 2017)—At Tuesday morning’s Washington Update, AAHomecare senior staff recounted important achievements from the last six months and discussed the prospects for additional gains for the HME industry in 2017. AAHomecare president and CEO Tom Ryan led off by describing 2017 as a year of opportunity for HME on the public policy front, thanks in part to new leadership at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Ryan noted that just 101 days prior to being sworn in as the new HHS Secretary, Tom Price was making the case for fixing the bidding program and streamlining HME audits to attendees at last Fall’s Medtrade in Atlanta.

While the overall prospects for better public policy related to HME are improved, Ryan noted that challenges need to be addressed on the near term, including making sure that implementation of retroactive relief for rural suppliers mandated by the CURES bill aligns with Congressional intent on reimbursement rates. Ryan also spoke of AAHomecare’s continued commitment to advocate for more sustainable rates for rural/non-bid area suppliers on a longer-term basis, exemplified in part by a letter the Association sent to Secretary Price asking for a freeze in rural/non-bid CB rates at the levels in effect for January through June of 2016.

Jay Witter, senior vice president of public policy, followed Ryan with additional perspectives on the 115th Congress and prospects for HME-related policy on oxygen concentrator cuts, complex rehab technology, audit reform and structural fixes for the competitive bidding program. He reiterated the important role that HME companies large and small have played in raising Congressional support for our industry’s legislative priorities through consistent and well-informed engagement with their Senators and Representatives, and asked that suppliers continue to tell how current policies are affecting their own companies and their patients.

Kim Brummett, vice president of regulatory affairs, detailed numerous wins on the regulatory front related to audits/appeals, clarification of WOPD requirements, and guidance from CMS on PAP supply replacements and documentation. 2017 regulatory goals noted included providing recommendations for improvements in the bidding program, developing legislative language for audit reform and working with CMS to revise payment authorization requirements for non-assigned claims.

Laura Williard, senior director of payer relations, discussed the Association’s activities to build relationships with third party payers nationwide and positive results that are beginning to accrue from these efforts. Williard also reported on AAHomecare’s recent success in convincing the contractor for TRICARE North that CURES-mandated reimbursements for non-bid providers should also apply to TRICARE, as noted efforts to engage state Medicaid authorities on future rate-setting for HME.

The powerpoint slides accompanying the presentation can be found here.

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