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A Look at 2019 from the VGM Government Relations and Regulatory Team

Posted on in Government and Advocacy

By John Gallagher, VGM Government Relations

The New Year will bring the 116th Congress, which presents opportunities for the grassroots of HME to engage with new members. Many strong HME advocates on Capitol Hill maintained their seats, but the industry still lost a few consistent HME supporters through defeats or retirements. While this is not a complete list of supporters, here is a breakdown of key members who will be returning in the 116th Congress and who will be moving on:

What HME Supporters Won Their Races?

In the House, Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), and Peter Welch (D-Va.) are just a few of the consistent HME supporters who were able to keep their seats.

In the Senate, Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), newly elected Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), and newly elected Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) will all serve in the 116th Congress.

One newly elected member who has been a strong supporter of the HME industry, Dan Meuser (center in the accompanying photo), a Republican from the 9th District of Pennsylvania, will be sworn in for the 116th Congress! This is a great win to have a member of Congress who has spent more than 20 years in the industry prior to becoming the Pennsylvania Revenue Secretary.

 

Which Supporters Did the HME Industry Lose?

A few retirements and losses contributed to the HME industry losing some consistent supporters in the halls of Congress: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) is being replaced by current Rep. Kevin Cramer, Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) was elected to serve as governor of South Dakota, and Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) and John Duncan (R-Tenn.) are retiring at the end of the current Congress.

Where Does the Grassroots Movement Go From Here?

Overall, as it typically does, the midterm elections sway away from a president’s political party. It is usually a matter of how big or small that the swing is. The GOP was vulnerable to losing the House while Democrats were not well-positioned to take back the Senate.

With the retirements, seat changes, and upsets, there are many new members of Congress who the HME industry must engage. There are going to be plenty of new opportunities to share the important story that this industry has to tell, and it is something VGM will be gearing up to do as the new Congress convenes in January. In the meantime, congratulate those who have won, thank the ones who have lost, and welcome the new representatives by inviting them and their staff to visit your facility.

HME is extremely non-partisan in the eyes of lawmakers due to the work of grassroots suppliers and patients engaging with their members of Congress. With dozens of new members entering office, we look forward to working on both sides of the political aisle to advocate on behalf of VGM’s membership of independent suppliers and the beneficiaries that they serve.

2019 Brings Big Changes to Competitive Bidding and Educational Opportunities From VGM

The past year brought many changes to the future of competitive bidding and the HME industry. While some changes are positive in areas where CMS missed the mark for a vulnerable supplier community, there are many changes that suppliers must be aware of and understand in 2019.

As the industry anxiously awaits further guidance to come from CMS on the specifics of the competitive bidding program, VGM is collaborating with major industry stakeholders, manufacturers, and state associations on in-person educational seminars, online webinars, tools, videos, and resources to prepare suppliers for these changes.

With a number of new policies that will be in place for the next round of bidding, there is an opportunity for meaningful growth in reimbursement for competitively bid items. The lead-item pricing method will be one of the primary focus areas, as it is crucial for suppliers to understand what a low lead-item bid could do to small codes within the lead item.

VGM, along with our industry partners, will be releasing ample educational opportunities in the coming months as we expect the bidding timeline to be conducted over the next 24 months. Please continue to monitor your inbox closely for updates on upcoming education, and we look forward to seeing you throughout 2019!