NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (February 14, 2019)—On February 12th, the Home Medical Equipment & Services Association of New England (HOMES) was invited by Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Region 1 director John McGough to the CMS and HHS Region 1 office to listen and understand issues related to Medicare policies and home medical equipment. During the 90-plus minute meeting, HOMES representatives discussed a wide array of issues including competitive bidding, fee schedules (and their impact on Medicaid and private insurance plans), audits, cumbersome documentation requirements and the challenges of trying to continue to provide quality products and services to Medicare beneficiaries to keep them safe at home.

“Secretary Azar has asked all regional offices to meet with local providers of all types,” said HOMES president and CEO, Karyn Estrella. “We covered a wide array of issues and will be following up with additional information. They were attentive and interested in continuing to hear our challenges. We made sure that a HOMES member from every sector was represented and they could not have done a better job.”

David Reilly, clinical coordinator at Sturdy Memorial Hospital, Attleboro, Massachusetts, addressed a list of issues including delayed discharges and the increase of hospital readmissions the company is seeing.

Gary Sheehan of Cape Medical Supply said, “HHS and CMS officials clearly recognize ongoing issues with the competitive bidding program and appear to be regularly fielding issues and performing triage to ensure patients receive care. They recognize that the suspension of the bid program is a change, what they failed to appreciate was the lack of relief on reimbursement does little to level the playing field.

“It is my hope that yesterday's meeting serves as an opening of a stronger dialogue and collaboration between the agencies—HHS and CMS—and the industry. We are hopeful we can get an audience with Secretary Azar during his visit later this spring. As always, an opportunity to educate government leadership on who we are, what we do and the value we deliver to the healthcare system is one we cannot pass up; had more officials been more aware a decade ago, perhaps we wouldn’t be in the position we are today. My sincerest thanks to Karyn Estrella and HOMES for organizing and facilitating this meeting—we are so fortunate to be here in New England and have such strong local representation!”

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