This morning, the homecare community took an enormous step towards securing meaningful change in the Medicare competitive bidding program.
H.R. 284, the Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Improvement Act of 2015 was reported favorably out of the House Committee on Ways and Means on February 26, 2015 via a bipartisan voice vote.
The markup of the Competitive Bidding Improvement Act in the House Ways and Means Committee is a critical step forward for this bipartisan, budget-neutral legislation that will apply common sense improvements to the Medicare bidding process. This was acheived without any further cuts to the DME industry. This is a clear signal from Congress to CMS that the competitive bidding program needs to be fixed.
AAHomecare has been working with Congress on the language. CMS and CBO had indicated concerns with the legislation, which the committee worked to overcome. We understand the Chairman’s mark is slightly amended to reflect that binding bids would not be required for the current Round 2 Recompete. The bill gives CMS the authority to do it in the next round, but requires it by 2019. AAHomecare is working with Congress and CMS to implement this requirement as soon as possible.
This is a critical first step in having Congress recognize one of the most serious flaws in the competitive bidding program and substantive action to eliminate it. The Association is dedicated to building upon this effort and making sure this new requirement is effective for the next round of bidding and addressing the drastic cuts in non-competitive bidding areas that are due to take effect on January 1, 2016. The Association wants to reassure members that this is only the first step in addressing this critical issue.
AAHomecare would like to extend thanks to Cara Bachenheimer for working tirelessly over the last year on this issue. We also must thank the State Leaders for their strong grassroots action all across the country which was instrumental in making this issue a priority for members of congress, particularly OAMES and HOMES.
However, our work is not done yet. We have to continue to work to prove to lawmakers that there are access to care issues because of competitive bidding that will continue to exist if there are not additional changes made to this program.
“We are now in a position to bring this bill to a vote in the House,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “This step is a year in the making and reflects the tireless work of homecare advocates, AAHomecare members and Medicare beneficiaries.”
“In this hyper-partisan political environment, you need widespread support to move forward, said Ryan. “Thanks to the perseverance of the homecare community, we’ve been able to build strong bipartisan support in the House and Senate. AAHomecare maintains its commitment to protecting patient access to quality home medical equipment and services and we’re ready to work with Congress and CMS to see this implemented as soon as possible.”
“The bill Ways and Means considered today will restore accountability, alleviate artificially low prices and deter unlicensed providers,” said Jay Witter, senior vice president of public policy at AAHomecare. “We are hopeful that today’s action by Ways and Means will provide the necessary momentum for the Competitive Bidding Improvement Act to become law immediately.”
Key Facts about the House Ways and Means Committee Markup of H.R. 284, the Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Improvement Act of 2015
Efforts to pass the Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Improvement Act of 2015 are being led in the House by Representatives Tiberi (R-OH) and Larson (D-CT). The Senate bill is sponsored by Senators Portman (R-OH) and Cardin (D-MD). These bills are continuations of legislation originally brought forward in 2014.
OAMES Note: We'd like to thank Rep. Pat Tiberi (OH) and Senator Rob Portman (OH) and their staff for their tenacious leadership to fix DME bidding that affects thousands of Medicare beneficiaries and home medical service providers throughout Ohio. Home-based care is a solution to our nation's healthcare challenges and should not be undermined by an improperly designed, controversial and unsustainable program.