|The House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures bill earlier today. The bill, led by House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), originally addressed only medical innovation, and was incorporated into a vehicle dubbed as the “Health Policy Omnibus” in an effort to pass many other health care initiatives. Congress has a large number of health and Medicare fixes to implement prior to its session coming to a close, including the DME and CRT industries that are outlined below.
DME Rural Relief beginning January 1, 2017 (Section 16007-8):
- A six-month delay of the July cuts and reinstates the Jan. 1, 2016 rates. This will extend the period of the January cuts, applying them from June 30-Dec. 31, 2016. Although it is only a six-month delay, this provides the opportunity for suppliers to recoup the losses from the most recent reduction.
- Requires HHS to reissue payment regulations for services furnished on or after Jan. 1, 2019, including stakeholder input, costs, patient populations and number of suppliers serving the area.
- Requires HHS to conduct a study on the impact the competitive bidding program has had on HME providers and the availability of equipment over the course of 2016.
- Shifts state Medicaid reimbursement amounts to DME Medicaid fee-for-services payments from Jan. 1, 2019, and moves it up to Jan. 1, 2018. This allows for the delay in reimbursement cuts while having the eye on the future for a permanent solution.
Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) Competitive Bidding Delay (Section 16005):
- Extends current delay of the competitive bidding program eligibility for CRT Group 3 power wheelchair accessories to July 1, 2017.
Although both of these are not permanent solutions once signed into law, having a fresh perspective from Rep. Tom Price, M.D. (R-Ga.), should he be confirmed as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services, would be beneficial for HME providers and their beneficiaries in the long term.
While the hurdle of this bill passing in the House is cleared, there is still work to be done. The Senate will likely take up this legislation next week, giving providers and patient advocates the opportunity to voice opinions on the positive steps this makes for the DME and CRT industries. Call your senators during the short time they have remaining in this session, and urge their support for the Cures Act!
VGM’s Vice President of Government Relations, John Gallagher, said, “The number of grassroots providers and beneficiaries who have stepped forward and continued to keep DME at the front of the policy table speaks volumes to their dedication. VGM’s membership of independent DME providers are committed to caring for the most vulnerable Americans, and this legislation is a step in the right direction to preserving that high level of care.”