WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 18, 2016)—Legislation to delay a new round of cuts to rural and non-bid area suppliers and provide additional fixes to the Medicare competitive bidding program for home medical equipment (HME) was introduced late yesterday in the Senate. The lead sponsors for the Patient Access to Durable Medical Equipment Act (S. 2736), are Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).
This bipartisan, non-controversial, and budget-neutral bill will:
- Delay the second cut for HME items in non-bid areas by 15 months. This would push back the second cut from July 1, 2016 until at least October 1, 2017.
- Replace the bid ceiling for future rounds of bidding with the unadjusted fee service rates from January 1, 2015 instead of CMS’ current plans to limit future bid ceilings to the previous bid rates.
- Require CMS to solicit stakeholder input and take into account travel costs, volume, clearing price and information on the numbers of providers serving bid areas as part of rate-setting activities for January 2019 and beyond.
- Require CMS to monitor and report on access issues and health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries utilizing HME, with updates provided on the CMS website on a monthly basis.
- Advance the start date of the federal portion of Medicaid reimbursement mirroring Medicare rates by three months from calendar year 2019 (January 1) to fiscal year 2019 (October 1, 2018).
"We applaud Senator Thune and Senator Heitkamp for their tireless efforts on behalf of home medical equipment suppliers and the millions of patients they serve," said Tom Ryan, AAHomecare president and CEO. "This new legislation will give Congress and CMS a chance to see the damaging effects of the January 1 round of cuts for rural and non-bid suppliers before even lower prices are thrust upon an already-reeling industry."
"Home medical equipment companies that serve patients in rural and less-populated areas are a lifeline to seniors and people with disabilities or chronic conditions," added Ryan. "If we allow these companies to go out of business on account of unsustainable price cuts driven by a badly-flawed bidding program, you can expect individuals in rural communities to suffer the consequences."
Additional co-sponsors at introduction include Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Angus King (I-Maine), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).
See the language for the legislation and read the press release issued this morning from Sens. Thune and Heitkamp for additional details.
Companion legislation is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives as early as next week. AAHomecare urges its members and other HME stakeholders to contact their legislators in support of S. 2736 as soon as possible. We will provide updated talking points and other tools you can use to support this legislation early next week.
Visit aahomecare.org for more information.