The following is a special Alert message from Tom Ryan, President and CEO of the American Association for Homecare. OAMES worked alongside AAHomecare, other state/regional HME associations and numerous stakeholders including the VGM Group, the MED Group and others to bring relief to rural HME providers in the latest legislative work. This is a recap of where we stand today:
As you’ve probably guessed, this wasn’t a cheerful morning at AAHomecare headquarters; I am sure it wasn’t for many of you, as well.
While we had plenty of encouraging intelligence that provisions from competitive bidding rural relief and CRT accessories legislation had a good chance of being part of year-end omnibus spending legislation, our priorities were ultimately not included in the final package. In addition, a move to cap the Federal contribution for Medicaid at bidding-derived rates is in the bill, staring in 2019 – that provision was likely used as a “pay for” to extend funding for 9/11 first-responder's healthcare and victim compensation.
Despite this setback, there are reasons to be proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, and to be hopeful for moving these measures forward in 2016.
The effort and engagement of the HME community on these initiatives has been as persistent, wide-spread and effective as any campaign I’ve seen us undertake in my years as a member of AAHomecare’s board of directors and in my two-plus years as president of the organization. The teamwork exhibited by leaders of our state & regional associations, major industry stakeholders like VGM and The MED Group, and individuals serving on AAHomecare councils and volunteer leadership allowed us to generate terrific co-sponsor support for our legislation on a short timetable, and also secured some important endorsements from Congressional committee leadership.
We’ve facilitated thousands of letters to Capitol Hill through our online grassroots action center, along with thousands more generated by VGM. We seen numerous instances of effective back-home lobbying efforts and individuals coming to Capitol Hill on short notice to make a personal connection with their legislators. We’ve seen a unified front behind legislation that is good for patients and providers alike.
While the omnibus spending bill provided an excellent opportunity to advance our legislative priorities, it is not the last chance we have to get relief for the HME community – not by a long shot.
We have already been in touch with our champions on Capitol Hill to discuss our next steps to build support and enlist more co-sponsors for our still-active legislation, and to work on strategy to position these bills to move in other legislative vehicles in the coming year. There’s been no thought of abandoning this fight from the AAHomecare staff, nor among the many leaders in our membership and allied organizations I’ve spoken with or emailed today.
Our goal remains unchanged: we will continue to advocate for these initiatives, and for better HME policy outcomes overall, in the second half of this Congressional session. We will again work to rally support from every segment of our industry, and we will also educate and engage patient and disability groups wherever we can. I truly believe we’re capable of building on the progress we’ve made this year and moving the ball across the goal line on these issues in 2016. I look forward to working with you all on the winning campaign that lies ahead.