Following the official signatures of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Senate Pro Tempore Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the 21st Century Cures Act has been signed by President Obama on Tuesday. Signing this bill into law addresses numerous areas of healthcare including medical innovation, cancer cure funding, mental health, home medical equipment, and more.
VGM’s VP of Government Relations, John Gallagher offers an optimistic path forward from this newly signed legislation. “Provisions within this legislation will allow durable medical equipment suppliers in non-competitive bidding areas to recoup dollars lost since the July reimbursement cuts, as well as extend the CRT delay while Congress and CMS work towards a long-term solution in the next administration,” said Gallagher. “The grassroots coalition of providers, state associations, beneficiaries, and other industry stakeholders has been phenomenal during 2016. The industry has worked hard to build up plenty of momentum to capitalize on the 115th Congress and new administration.”
There are countless examples of providers engaging with the government to rally support for these pieces of legislation. While the DME provisions in the Cures Act are not perfect, additional reforms will continue to be worked in during the next Congress. DME is being seen in a new light on Capitol Hill. This new view of DME is due to the meetings, roundtables, events, phone calls and letters that providers have combined to show the value and care that this industry provides. It captured the attention of our many champions in Congress which led to a combined 156 cosponsors in the House and Senate, something many bills do not often see.
Reps. Tom Price, M.D. (R-Ga), Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), Cathy McMorris-Rogers, Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) among others played a key role in introducing language in the House to gain support in the committees of jurisdiction and going directly to other members to discuss the importance of this legislation for rural America.
Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), were instrumental in gathering support within the Senate leadership by taking the stories of providers to show the important role that providers play in rural America.
Moving into the 115th Congress and the next administration, this grassroots coalition will need to keep up the momentum as there is opportunity to advance beneficial reforms. The next administration has tapped many HME congressional champions for various positions within the Executive branch which means that providers in these areas will need to build relationships with their replacements. VGM will monitor these appointments and elections moving into 2017 and work to connect advocates with these new members.
VGM has remained dedicated to advocating for a long term solution to the problems that competitive bidding brings to HME. This highly flawed program must be fixed in a way that reflects true market rates, the varying cost structures for providers outside of competitive bidding areas, and patient populations.