Azar willing to work on HME issues

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

WASHINGTON – Alex Azar, the nominee for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Serviecs, has verbally agreed to work with congressional leaders to address issues that are negatively impacting the HME industry.

During a Senate confirmation hearing on Jan. 9, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., asked Azar if he would work with the Office of Management and Budget to “quickly approve” an interim final rule that would provide relief from Medicare’s competitive bidding program in non-bid areas. The rule has been sitting at the OMB since October.

“Yes, senator, I would be happy to work on those issues,” Azar told Thune.

The IFR would extend a delay to a second round of reimbursement cuts in non-bid areas to Aug. 1, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2018.

Thune, a member of the influential Finance Committee, has been a long-time champion for the industry’s efforts to provide relief to non-bid areas. Last year, he spearheaded a sign-on letter in the Senate asking then HHS Secretary Tom Price to use his regulatory authority to provide relief. It garnered 48 signatures.

During the hearing, Thune also asked Azar if he would also work to complete a report on beneficiary access required by the 21st Century Cures Act. He said HHS was supposed to complete the report by Jan. 12, 2017.