On the Front Lines of DME: Reinforcements are on the Way!

Posted on in HME Government Issues

By: John Gallagher, VGM Government Relations

Legislation is expected to be introduced this week in the U.S. House of Representatives that would freeze competitive bidding rates at the current level for 15 months and require CMS to take into account the costs of providing this equipment when determining rates. Additionally, this legislation removes the current bid ceiling limits for future competitive bidding rounds.

The bipartisan legislation is expected to be introduced by Reps. Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) and would be a companion bill to the Patient Access to Durable Medical Equipment Act of 2016, which was introduced in the Senate in March by the original sponsors Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).

Fortunately, because of the hard work and effort the HME industry has put towards a solution, reinforcements are coming in the form of these pieces of bipartisan legislation.

We Can Learn from the 101st Airborne

As we battle against competitive bidding, the HME industry should take a lesson from the United States Army’s 101st Airborne Division and its struggle to survive during World War II.

It was Christmas 1944 in Belgium, and the 101st Airborne Division was outnumbered and outgunned as the German army surrounded the town of Bastogne in the Battle of the Bulge. This was the final push for the German army as a last-ditch effort to claim victory. The German army had the entire division surrounded and demanded that the American paratroopers surrender immediately, to which the “Battered Bastards of Bastogne” ever so eloquently responded with “NUTS!”

The Battered Bastards of Bastogne hardly had enough clothes to stay warm in the frigid weather and were extremely outgunned by the powerful German army. For two weeks, the 101st dug their boot heels into the ground and defended the town of Bastogne. After reinforcements arrived, the German commanders had no choice but to retreat, and Bastogne and the allied forces were victorious.

The competitive bidding program (CBP) has surrounded HME, forcing providers across the country into accepting drastic cuts to the point where providers cannot survive. In January 2016, providers saw a cut in Medicare reimbursement rates of approximately 25 percent overnight. Providers in rural America are being forced to accept reimbursement rates set by densely populated urban areas. And, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to cut reimbursements on July 1 by an additional 25 percent. 

The VGM Group Action Center has made it extremely simple for you to send a message to your members of Congress. By clicking here, you can send a message of support in about one minute and add your voice to the thousands of messages that have been sent through the VGM D.C. Link in the past weeks. We urge you to share the link above with your colleagues, patients and friends to flood the inboxes of your elected officials with the concerns of the HME industry.

As the Battered Bastards of Bastogne did, we encourage you to say “NUTS!”