Stakeholders pressure CMS with two letters

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Friday, October 5, 2018

WASHINGTON – A groundswell of grassroots support carried a pair of bid-related sign-on letters over the finish line last week, say industry stakeholders.

The final tally: 138 signatures on the letter in the House of Representatives, spearheaded by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.; and 32 signatures on the letter in the Senate, spearheaded by Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.

“Every office we walked into had heard from state leaders and providers,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare, who spent Wednesday on Capitol Hill. “These letters will help to shape the final rule where we need it to be so we are encouraged by that.”

The letters, which are being sent to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, HHS Secretary Alex Azar and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, ask CMS to increase reimbursement rates in bid areas until the next round of the program is implemented and to extend 50/50 blended reimbursement rates to all non-bid areas as part of a forthcoming final rule.

Without an increase in reimbursement, access issues could worsen come Jan. 1, when the current bid contracts expire and an any willing provider provision kicks in.

“You’ve unencumbered the contract suppliers who will make decisions on whether they want to take on unsustainable business,” said Ryan. “The ones on the sidelines who have found other revenue sources should think long and hard about jumping back into what the agency has admitted is a program that’s not sustainable with the current pricing.”

Stakeholders expect CMS to publish a final rule in November.