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President Obama Signs CURES Bill - Industry Remains Focused on Permanent Fix in 2017

HME stakeholders nationwide including the American Association for Homecare, VGM, manufacturers, advocacy groups and more have been worked closely with industry legislative champions to share the struggles of the HME community throughout 2016.  While the years through the bidding program were difficult, this year has been especially harsh with the expansion of the bid rate to rural areas which had no role in the rate auctions.  These providers also have an entirely different challenge serving customers than those operating in densely populated competitive bidding areas. 

While the CURES Bill, recently signed into law by the president, gives short term relief to HME companies in rural areas, AAHomecare is hopeful that it also provides something much greater for the industry:  an opening for longer-term fixes on Medicare reimbursement for both rural/non-bid providers and for providers operating in bidding areas, as detailed here.
AAHomecare and leading HME stakeholders are getting ready to hit the ground running when the 115th Congress and new HHS leadership get to work in 2017.  OAMES will be joining the fight along with other state/regional HME associations nationally to work with past champions and new HHS leadership to come together to deliver a longer-term fix for unsustainable Medicare reimbursement rates under the competitive bidding program.

Additionally, one of the pay-for’s of the CURES Bill, was done on the backs of Medicaid providers and their customers.  The bill accelerates the plans to limit state Medicaid reimbursement amounts for HME to the Medicare fee-for-service payment rates, including applicable competitive bidding rates.  While this provision currently is scheduled to take effect in January 2019, the new legislation would move implementation up to January 1, 2018. 

OAMES will be working with the Ohio Department of Medicaid to minimize the impact on Ohio Medicaid recipients. We’ve had constructive conversations with ODM on this point and have been effective in educating them on the problems with the bid rates. In fact, they’ve included language in the wheelchair rule that bases reimbursement on the 2015 Medicare fee-for-service rate. This will be a key focus of OAMES work in 2017.
As difficult as it may be to share your experiences, this information from the trenches helps us explain the dangers to members of Congress of not pursuing a permanent legislative solution for the HME community.  Please contact Kam Yuricich at OAMES or Tilly Gambill at AAHomecare to share your experiences, challenges or difficult changes you’ve made or plan to make as reimbursement declines. Please be assured that all requests for confidentiality will be maintained, and that we will seek prior approval for using any material in media outreach or editorials.

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