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A Recap of 2017 Legislative Efforts and Continuing the Fight

There have been several key developments in the past several weeks, which our grassroots coalition must continue to push forward to gain their legislators support.

Congressional Letter to HHS Secretary Price

The letter being led by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), and Diana Degette (D-Colo.) is calling for reforms to policies and regulations involving durable medical equipment and complex rehab technology. The letter is being sent to HHS Secretary Tom Price of and CMS Administrator Seema Verma. The congressional offices are looking to get broad bipartisan support from their fellow representatives, which is where your colleagues and patients can play a huge role! Call your member of Congress, and visit our VGM Action Center today!

Currently there are 41 cosponsors of this letter. Click here to view the most recent list of sponsors. If your legislative member is not on this letter, we ask that you call the Washington, D.C., switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your representative. Remember, this letter is coming from the U.S. House, so remember to ask for the legislator who represents your district. Additionally, you can visit the VGM Action Center and send a message to your representative with just a few clicks!

Small Business Committee Letter

In an effort spearheaded by Patrick Naeger, president of MAMES (Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services), independent DME suppliers have gained the attention of the House Small Business Committee. Much like the concerns prompting the letter by Rep. McMorris Rodgers and others, the Small Business Committee is gravely concerned about the 40 percent reduction in providers in such a short period. Many of these independent HME locations are in metropolitan and rural areas, something that Congress does not like to see diminished. This reduction has a large snowball effect that impacts jobs, local economies, and patient access to care.

Click here to see a list of the Small Business Committee member,s and contact them to support the letter focused on keeping the small businesses open and prosperous.

Keeping Complex Rehab Technology Accessories Out of Competitive Bidding

In 2008 Congress intentionally exempted CRT from the competitive bidding program, but in November 2014, CMS issued a final rule explaining that competitive bidding would be used to adjust CRT wheelchair accessories. There have been multiple delays in this program, and now the clock is ticking because on July 1, 2017, without action, the most recent delay will expire.

U.S. Rehab is at the forefront working to solidify a permanent solution for complex rehab providers. H.R. 1361 and S. 486 will extend the needed protection to complex rehab chairs and keep patients out of the hospital. There will be an extreme gap in access to complex rehab equipment if this is not fixed. We must keep up the pressure on Congress to solve this!

To play a role in supporting this long-term solution, please visit U.S. Rehab’s page to send a message to your members of Congress to support this legislation and use the phone look up function to call their offices.

Prior Authorization Bill Introduced H.R. 2445

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has introduced a new bill that would require a prior authorization for high-dollar durable medical equipment. At its core, this legislation seeks to reduce the amount of burdensome audits against which providers continue to fight. This legislation would create a more secure outlook into the future for independent medical suppliers. VGM will provide further analysis, calls for action, and updates as we follow this legislation.

You can also contact your members of Congress to support this bill by becoming a cosponsor. The bill was just recently introduced, so a strong showing of broad bipartisan support will be key for this.
State Licensure Efforts Continuing into the Next Session

Earlier this month the state of Georgia was the latest to sign DME state licensure into law. State licensure is one of the most effective ways to keep health care local. As many providers know all too well, the flawed competitive bidding program has opened the door for providers – who are hundreds, if not thousands of miles away – to win contracts. This does not bode well for patient outcomes.

Coordinating state licensure efforts does not happen overnight. Now is the time to start planning and preparing to pursue state licensure in your state. It takes a strong coalition of providers and state associations on the ground to garner the support needed to pass state licensure. Please reach out to VGM Government Relations to see what things you can do as a provider to support state licensure efforts.