House Sign-on Letter Calls for Bid Delay

HME providers have until July 29 to secure signatures on Congressional letter urging HHS and CMS to delay Round 2021 for at least a year.

Industry advocates are calling on HME stakeholders to help convince lawmakers to attach their signatures to a House sign-on letter calling on CMS to delay implementation of Round 2021 of competitive bidding. The deadline to sign the letter is July 29.

The letter is attached to a bi-partisan “dear colleague” letter from Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), and calls on HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CSM Administrator Seem Verma to delay implementing competitive bidding for one year or for the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, whichever lasts longer.

Given the tight deadline, AAHomecare is advising providers to locate and email their Representative’s legislative aide/staffer that specifically handle healthcare issues. They can start by contacting their Representative's office  (find your Representative), asking for that staffer, explaining the need for signatures on the letter, and then asking for the staffer's email so that they can send them the House “dear colleague” letter.

AAHomecare has been calling for a Round 2021 delay since late March, and intensified that effort in June after a survey it conducted demonstrated that HME providers are experiencing strained supply chains, increased costs, and operational obstacles due to the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). Despite that marketplace upheaval, CMS is still moving forward with Round 2021 bid amounts that were developed in October 2019.

“It’s a completely different world right now,” said AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan. “The cost structure for HME suppliers has changed tremendously, particularly on the product side, with respiratory products and the cost of personal protective equipment, and even operational requirements to safely make sure patients and staff are protected. … It’s about capacity.

“We don’t want to be taking 80 to 90 percent of suppliers out of the ability to do Medicare services come Jan. 1,” Ryan continued. “This is an unprecedented time we’re in, and this program has to be paused.”

To that point, the sign-on letter underscores the importance of HME providers’ role in caring for COVID-19 patients and off-loading beneficiaries from hospitals by helping them get treatment in the home setting.

“Limiting suppliers in the competitive bidding areas is appropriate under normal circumstances, but it is not during a pandemic when the number of Medicare beneficiaries who will likely require DMEPOS is continuing to increase,” the letter reads. “We need to ensure that we can meet the growing need for home care products, and the agency should not take this time to shift cost to institutional and clinical care.”

To help providers with their outreach, AAHomecare has several resources online to help providers with their lobbying:

Because of the tight timeline, industry advocates are calling on providers to not waste any time in reaching out to lawmakers and their health staff.

“It’s a big grassroots effort, and we want to get well over 100 signatures on it,” Ryan said. “I think we can get the industry to convene and do it. We’re working closely with VGM and our grassroots accountability project volunteers to get the message and all the collateral they need out to them. We’ve got a little over a week to get it done.”

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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