HME News

APR 2017

HME News is the monthly business newspaper for home medical equipment providers. This controlled circulation publication reaches 17,100 home medical equipment services providers, including traditional HME dealers & suppliers, hospital- and pharmacy-o

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News 6 WWW . HMENEWS . C o M / A pril 2017 / HME NEWS WASHINGTON – AAHomecare has asked newly minted Health and Human Service Secre- tary Tom Price to issue an interim final rule to repeal the fully adjusted Medicare rates that originally went into effect in non-com- petitive bidding areas on July 1, 2016. In a Feb. 28 letter, the association asks Price to, instead, freeze rates at the 50/50 blended rate that took effect Jan. 1, 2016, and amend the methodology for determin- ing adjusted fee schedules. "I request for you to take immediate action to provide relief to DME provid- ers and patients in non-CBAs, which have experienced dramatic reimbursement cuts over a short six-month period," wrote Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. CMS implemented phased-in rate cuts on Jan. 1, 2016, and July 1, 2016. In December, however, Congress directed the agency to retroactively delay the July 1, 2016, cuts until Jan. 1, 2017. AAHomecare included in the letter a chart that depicts the severity of the rate cuts in non-bid areas. Rates for CPAP devic- es, for example, are $39.59 in 2017 com- AAHomecare appeals to Price to freeze rates pared to $104.58 in the 2015 fee schedule. "It is still too soon to have accurate fig- ures on suppliers' sales and closures in response to the adjusted rates, but we know from CMS data that there are 38% fewer suppliers enrolled in Medicare today than there were in 2013," Ryan wrote. "Given the unprecedented magnitude of the pay- ment cuts under the adjusted rates, it is reasonable to expect a high rate of suppli- er attrition in non-CBAs if adjusted rates remain at current levels." AAHomecare argues that if Price waits for CMS to finalize overdue annual reports on the overall impact of competitive bid- ding—the last was published in 2011—and to publish a notice of proposed rulemak- ing, "access to DMEPOS in non-CBAs will deteriorate quickly." "Using an IFR to suspend or repeal rules implementing the adjusted fee schedules would also allow the secretary to align the transition to DMEPOS adjusted fee sched- ules with similar transitions to payment adjustments in other Medicare benefits," Ryan wrote. h M e featured about 180 exhibitors, the mood was also upbeat. Although the show is smaller, exhibitors say foot traffic was better than expected. "There's been a steady flow—people from all over," said Tom Miller, with Charlot- tesville, Va.-based Human Design Medical. "This is still cost-effective way for us to meet customers." Michelle Kimball, with Salem, Mass.-based Handy Cane said the company's booth was packed on Tuesday, the day the exhibit hall opened. Show attendees voted for the Handy that once Medicare issues a new fee sched- ule for that timeframe—the agency says it will do that on May 1—that will help to speed up the process. "As soon as that fee schedule is updated, it will be easier," she said. "Right now, we can tell them what we think will happen, but they want to see it." Outside of Tricare, however, the battles will be largely state-by-state. Provider Robert Brown has been hard at work educating a large private payer in his state not to apply the cuts that went into effect Jan. 1 and July 1, 2016, in non-bid areas. That payer has agreed to a retroac- p A y ERS f OLLOW c o n t i n u e d f r o m pa g e 3 ME d TRA d E c o n t i n u e d f r o m pa g e 3 tive delay, but only going back to Sept. 1, 2016, he says. "We told them, 'Sorry, we can't do this anymore; we can't afford to service your customers,' and when they realized that, they came back to the table," said Brown, vice president of operations for Andrew Brown's in Scranton, Pa. "But what about the rest of 2016? That's thousands, if not tens of thousands, in reimbursement that we didn't get." It's slow but steady progress, Williard acknowledges. "We've started to see people be more open to these discussions," she said. "But as part of those discussions, we now have data, so we hope to have more of an impact." h M e Cane as the n o. 1 new product in the show's n ew Product Pavilion. "People want unique products and I think more are looking to do cash and carry," she said. "It's important we are connected with decision makers and we met lots of them—lots of distributors and DMEs of all sizes." For their part, attendees came to the show ready to get to work. "I accomplished what I came to do," said Hunter Cook, with Woodbury, Ten.-based Action DME, who said he usually goes to the Atlanta show. "Every time, I meet new people, make new opportunities. It's a no brainer." h M e

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