ARLINGTON, Va. (June 1, 2021)—Home medical equipment (HME) suppliers in rural and other non-bid areas received significant support in the April 2020 Cares Act through measures that extended the 50/50 blended rate for rural suppliers through the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), and for the first time provided a 75/25 rate (a blend using 75% current adjusted rates and 25% unadjusted rates) for suppliers in other non-bid areas for the duration of the PHE.

The American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) is stepping up engagement with policymakers to seek meaningful rate adjustments for former competitive bid areas (CBA); extending the current relief for rural and non-CBA suppliers beyond the PHE also remains a priority, the association said in a press release.

AAHomecare and HME stakeholders have recently highlighted the increased product cost and supply chain constraints that are impacting the industry. These issues are likely to remain in place well beyond the end of the PHE, especially given both higher demand for respiratory products as well as continued transportation and raw material costs, and higher equipment prices that will accompany an expected surge in the U.S. and international economy. Accordingly, the rationale for extending the relief granted to rural and non-CBA suppliers in the Cares Act remains largely in effect—and will be a major focus of the association’s advocacy along with appropriate rate adjustments for former CBAs.

AAHomecare has consistently advocated for these rural and non-CBA rates to both the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Congress. These efforts have borne fruit in various measures applying 50/50 rates in legislation and regulation as far back as 2016—and also through the first application of the 75/25 non-CBA rates in 2020. As is often the case, achieving these major policy gains was the result of years of sustained effort.

AAHomecare has urged CMS to continue these rates and are also laying the groundwork for legislation to continue this relief if it is not part of the pending DME Rule. As the delay in releasing the DME Rule rolls on, the need to develop a “Hill-forward” approach is increasingly clear. “The HME industry needs to protect and extend this hard-won relief, and AAHomecare is preparing for this fight,” the press release concluded.

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