52 Meetings on Capitol Hill- Competitive Bidding Expansion and CRT Accessories Top the Agenda

Posted on in HME Government Issues

By: Collin Brecher, VGM Government Relations and Kayla Mahler, U.S. Rehab

With only days remaining to earn support for two sets of crucial HME legislation, the VGM team is out in full force. Greg Packer of U.S. Rehab, and Tom Powers and John Gallagher of VGM Government Relations put their foot on the gas pedal last week to battle the expansion of competitive bidding to rural America and fight the misapplication of competitive bid rates to complex rehab accessories.   

Breaking News: Competitive Bidding Relief "PACT Act" Introduced in the House   

The goals of the meetings were to gather support for S. 2312, DME Access and Stabilization Act of 2015, which would mitigate the nationwide rollout of competitive bidding, as well as gather support for CRT accessory bills H.R. 3229 and S. 2196, which would make a technical correction to exclude complex rehab accessories from competitive bid pricing. The team also worked to inform offices of ventilation relief language that is currently being drafted in Legislative Counsel. It’s expected that language from S. 2312, H.R. 3229 and S. 2196 will be attached to the Omnibus bill before the December break.

Packer and Powers arrived in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, Dec. 6 and proceeded with 32 meetings with representatives and key staff members in two and a half days. Joining them to voice her support for HME issues was the Small Business Administration Deputy National Ombudsman, Yolanda Swift.

 “People in Congress are starting to get it. CMS cannot inappropriately apply competitive bid pricing to complex rehab accessories. The combined effort of phone calls and emails from people in our industry and our visits made a substantial difference,” said Packer. “We have to show that the standard and complex accessories are in the same code. Provider reimbursement for complex rehab accessories will decrease come Jan. 1 if nothing happens. Providers will either have to take a loss on the accessory or offset it to the patient.”

On the back half of the week, John Gallagher met with key leaders such as Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the newly appointed chairman of Ways and Means.

“With deadlines getting closer each day, the leadership must know how important fighting the nationwide rollout of competitive bidding is to the industry.  We had great meetings with key members of both chambers and parties to convey that time is running out for providers. Meeting with members like Chairman Brady and the staff of newly elected Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R-WI) provided a great opportunity to advance our message in order to stop these harmful policies being pushed by CMS,” said Gallagher.

Message your Congressional Representatives

We need to continue to message to our congressional representatives to support the new H.R. 4185, as well as S. 2312, H.R. 3229 and S. 2196. Keep pressing your representatives to support the legislation, to have the language added to the Omnibus bill and to ask leadership to keep the language in and pass it before they adjourn in December. More specifically, ask your members of Congress to reach out to Amanda in Rep. Tom Price’s office to support adding his legislative languages to the Omnibus bill.

Please make sure everyone in your company and all of your clients know about the rural rollout of competitive bid pricing and cuts to CRT accessories. Ask them to contact or re-contact their representative and senators to encourage them to sign onto these bills.

The message is simple: “I need you to attach the language of H.R. 4185,S. 2312, H.R. 3229, or S. 2196 to the Omnibus bill and ask leadership to keep it in and pass it before you adjourn in December.”

  • Step 1: Email your legislators to ask them to sign onto H.R. 4185, S. 2312, H.R. 3229 or S. 2196 here
  • Step 2: Make a phone call to your legislators. You can find the contact information for your elected officials on VGM Government Relations’ website

“The grassroots efforts of providers, manufacturers and state associations has yielded results already,” said Powers. “We’ve heard from Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL), Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI),  that already have signed or will be signing onto the legislation. Keep contacting Congress!”

If you have any questions, contact VGM Government Relations at 800-642-6065.  

Read John Gallagher’s editorial on these issues in Medtrade Monday. Reimbursement Cuts on the Way – A Rally Cry for Action