Industry wants answers

Big question now: ‘What are going to be the next steps?’
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Friday, March 23, 2018

WASHINGTON – Congress put CMS on notice when it passed an omnibus bill last week that the agency needs to enact a competitive bidding-related interim final rule.

The Senate approved the $1.3 trillion omnibus bill late Thursday.

“Congress has said to the regulators that it’s back in their court,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “Indications were that the IFR wasn’t going to move forward, but CMS has been told if they do not act, maybe Congress will.”

The IFR, which would delay a second round of reimbursement cuts in non-bid areas from Aug. 1, 2017, to Jan. 1, 2019, has been stalled at the Office of Management and Budget for months.

Stakeholders continue to press for answers on why.

“We’ve talked to Senator Grassley’s office—he would like (an explanation) in writing,”said John Gallagher vice president of government relations for VGM. “We want answers.”

What wasn’t included in the omnibus bill was language from H.R. 4229—something the industry had lobbied hard for in recent weeks. That’s disappointing, but it doesn’t mean the bill is dead, says Gallagher.

“We’re going to have to circle back with our champions,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff that wasn’t included in the omnibus bill that needs to move forward, so there are other avenues, but they dry up quickly the closer we get to the August recess.”

AAHomecare has also requested a meeting with Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan.

“He’s the one who’s going to be handling the rule once this is passed into law,” said Ryan. “We want to know, what are going to be the next steps?”