WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 25, 2019)—More than 40% of the members of the United States House of Representatives have joined a letter asking federal regulators to keep noninvasive ventilators out of the next round of the competitive bidding program for HME. In their letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, 180 legislators note the critical role that ventilators play in supporting patients with severe health issues, including individuals with neuromuscular diseases and terminal respiratory conditions.
The letter closes by saying:
“Congress has never specifically directed the Secretary to competitively bid ventilators, and Medicare has never attempted to bid any items within its entire DME category of devices requiring frequent and substantial servicing. CMS has never proposed including ventilators in the program through rulemaking and we would encourage you to solicit such input on the record before doing so. CMS recently announced plans to include noninvasive ventilators in Medicare’s competitive bidding program in a press release. We urge you to reconsider these plans.”
“Congress is sending a clear message that ventilators don’t belong in the bidding program," said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of the American Association for Homecare. “We believe that such a large number of legislators from both parties coming together on an issue in just a few weeks’ time should give HHS and CMS cause to reconsider plans to add non-invasive ventilators to the bidding program.”
“Patients and caregivers who depend on ventilators should be heartened by this strong bipartisan effort on their behalf and especially appreciative of the leadership of Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) in marshaling support for the letter,” added Ryan.
“I’d like to thank the leading patient advocacy organizations and clinician groups that joined with the HME community to educate and engage Capitol Hill on this issue, especially the ALS Foundation and the ITEM Coalition,” said Ryan. “Their voices helped amplify the outreach efforts by AAHomecare members and other HME stakeholders to their representatives, leading to an overwhelming show of Congressional support for keeping ventilators out of the bidding program.”
The letter was officially released with 180 signatures. A complete list of signers by state can be found here.