WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 15, 2016)—AAHomecare has received confirmation that H.R. 5210, the Patient Access to Durable Medical Equipment Act, did not successfully clear through the Senate before adjournment last night thanks to a hold placed by an unidentified Senator. This means the July 1 round of cuts for rural and non-bid area suppliers will remain in effect unless Congress takes action when they return in September. 

“Home medical equipment providers in rural areas are now faced with Medicare reimbursement rates that, in many cases, are about half of what they were receiving in 2015,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of the American Association for Homecare. “I know that HME providers will do everything they can to continue to serve the patients who depend on them—but there’s no doubt that many companies may have to reduce their offerings, cut back on services or leave the Medicare program entirely to survive.”

“It’s extremely disappointing that we could not resolve this issue before Congress went into recess, especially given that both the House and Senate had passed versions of this legislation pausing these cuts,” added Ryan. “However, we’re ready to take up the fight again when our legislators return in September. We’re not giving up.”

“Seniors and people with disabilities in rural areas, as well as their caregivers, will pay the steepest price for these cuts going forward,” said Ryan. “When these cuts start to hit home in these communities, I believe the need for this legislation will become even more evident on Capitol Hill.” 

Moving Forward 

We understand and appreciate that the July 1 cuts are going to cause significant pain and disruption for AAHomecare members operating in rural and non-bid areas. Many of you may be forced to make difficult business and operational decisions in the coming weeks, and these cuts could make it challenging for some companies to keep their doors open.

AAHomecare’s leadership and staff remain steadfast in our commitment to fight on your behalf.  We have already been in contact with our champions on Capitol Hill and other HME stakeholders to determine the best path forward to roll back these cuts when Congress returns.

We believe that the Senate and House bills passed in recent weeks have demonstrated that Congress genuinely appreciates the potential risks to beneficiary access if these cuts remain in place, and that we still have an opportunity for a longer term solution when Congress returns. Once again, we’ll be asking you to reach out to your legislators to make them understand the urgency of this issue for both your company, and the patients you serve.  

Turning Up the Volume

While there’s still strong interest and engagement on this issue from our champions on the Hill, there will also be plenty of competing priorities on the Congressional calendar in September. It’s clear that we will have to go beyond our previous efforts as an industry to date and raise the volume until this issue can’t be ignored—starting as soon as possible, and ramping up as members of Congress are back in their districts during August.

We’ll give you every bit of guidance, encouragement, and support we can to help make sure your voices are heard until we are finally able to get much-needed relief for rural providers and patients. As long as the HME industry is ready to keep up the fight, AAHomecare will be standing by your side.

For more information, visit aahomecare.org