Recapping March Legislative Efforts

Published in Complex Rehab on March 26, 2019

Towards the end of March, there was a large amount of positive news in regards to CRT legislative efforts. These items of good news included discussions that occurred at the International Seating Symposium (ISS) in Pittsburgh, the recent passage of a separate benefit category legislation in Tennessee, and continued efforts by state associations, such as conversations at Big Sky AMES where CRT reimbursement concerns were addressed and an update from KMESA on Kentucky’s Medicaid MCO bill. U.S. Rehab and VGM Government Relations will continue to monitor the progress of these items, but below are basic summaries of these efforts. 

Meetings at the 2019 International Seating Symposium (ISS)
U.S. Rehab attended another successful International Seating Symposium (ISS) conference, where more than 2,000 people were in attendance to learn and network with fellow complex rehab providers and manufacturers. While attending, Director of VGM Government Relations Tom Powers spoke with Rep. GT Thompson (R-Pa.) about his involvement with CRT legislation. According to Tom, Rep. Thompson said he is ready to get involved once CRT legislation is announced and the bills are drafted. He will also encourage other members to sign on to the bill. Rep. Thompson said he wants to be very supportive of all DME, CRT, and competitive bidding legislation.

Separate Benefit Category Legislation
In early March, a new and improved separate benefit category (SBC) legislation was updated with new language and was in the process of gaining new support. As reported by the Association for Tennessee Home Oxygen and Medical Equipment Services (ATHOMES) on March 19, Tennessee passed legislation that would create this separate benefit category for complex rehab technology. 

The new legislation, which heads to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee for approval, will ensure that CRT products receive separate consideration when state Medicaid authorities are proposing adjustments to reimbursement rates or other regulatory changes. Under the Long-Term Care Community Choices Act, H.B. 647 would require the commissioner to recognize CRT as a separate benefit category for the purposes of any proposed budget or other public documents; defines CRT to include group 3, 4, and 5 power wheelchairs and certain manual wheelchairs; and amends TCA Title 68 and Title 71.

U.S. Rehab and the VGM Government Relations team send gratitude to Rep. Darren Jernigan and Sen. Bo Watson, as well as advocates from ATHOMES, John Goetz of Bridge Public Affairs, and many others for their efforts in getting this legislation passed.

Successful Efforts by State Associations

Oklahoma Medical Equipment Providers Association’s (OMEPA) efforts in February paid off when the Oklahoma sales tax exemption bill passed the state House. HME providers of Oklahoma, along with VGM’s John Gallagher, met at the state capitol on March 26 to shift their efforts on passage of H.B. 1262 in the state Senate.

U.S. Rehab and the VGM Government Relations team thank our Oklahoma members and OMEPA  for their efforts in getting this sales tax exemption bill passed.

Big Sky AMES members gathered in Missoula and Helena to discuss items such as non-competitive bid area relief, oxygen, and CRT reimbursement concerns with congressional leaders. On March 18, members met with staff from Sen.Jon Tester's (Dem.) Helena office and discussed these items. According to Big Sky AMES, the meeting went extremely well, and the staff seemed tuned in to the issues that were presented and would encourage Sen. Tester to be supportive of the issues.

On March 19, a large group of Big Sky providers met with the DHS Task Force, where Big Sky secured some major advancements with Montana Medicaid, including the new ability to process claims based on the ZIP Code of where the beneficiary lives instead of their previous way to process and reimburse claims at the non-rural rate. Another advancement includes prior authorizations being either approved or denied, not acting as “pending” and leaving providers in limbo.

U.S. Rehab and the VGM Government Relations team thank Big Sky members for these positive outcomes and their continued efforts of advocating for the industry.

Last month, U.S. Rehab informed members that Kentucky Medicaid MCO legislation (H.B. 224) passed through the Kentucky House and was headed to the Senate. Due to the strong, ongoing efforts of KMESA, KMESA Legislative Committee Member Thad Connally reports that this legislation passed in the Senate on March 15. One of the most important aspects of this bill is that MCOs cannot go below the floor of 90% of the Medicaid fee schedule. 

Because this legislation passed the Senate, the bill will quickly go back to the House for a procedural vote on the amendment. Then it will be signed by both the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate and sent to the governor for his signature. He has 10 days to do one of three things: 1) Veto (highly unlikely as the cabinet secretary signed off on the agreement); 2) Sign it into law; or 3) Do nothing over the 10-day period and it automatically becomes law.

Once the final legislation is signed by the governor, more details about this legislation will be released. Stay tuned for updates on this legislation that will benefit Kentucky providers.

As always, U.S. Rehab and VGM Government Relations will continue to monitor the progress of any CRT legislation and inform members of updates that impact the industry.  

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