Stakeholders run with vent bill

‘They are very concerned about CMS and they want a remedy’
 - 
Friday, November 8, 2019

WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders are prioritizing the 180 members of the House of Representatives who signed a letter asking CMS to drop non-invasive vents from competitive bidding to now support H.R. 4945.

The bill, which would delay the inclusion of NIV in the bid program for five years, was introduced Oct. 31, spearheaded by Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., and co-sponsored by Reps. Peter Welch, D-Vt., Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., John Larson, D-Conn., and Darren Soto, D-Fla.

“They’re pushing forward with this,” said Jay Witter, senior vice president of public policy for AAHomecare. “They are very concerned about CMS and they want a remedy.”

Griffith and Welch were the drivers of the House sign-on letter earlier this year. A similar letter in the Senate received 38 signatures.

The bill, known as the “Safeguarding Medicare Access to Respiratory Therapy (SMART) Act of 2019,” also calls for the creation of a technical expert panel to help the Department of Health and Human Services in developing a comprehensive coverage policy for ventilators used in the home.

That’s a component of the bill that’s just as important for provider Roxanne Vennard.

“If we had some standards of care that were nationally accepted, we’d have consistency of care so patients, caregivers, Medicare and the providers we would all know what the expectations are,” said Vennard, president of Ascent Respiratory Care in Greenwood, Village, Colo.

Back in 2016, respiratory groups, including the National Association for Medical Direction of Respiratory Care and the American Association for Respiratory Care, asked CMS to reconsider the National Coverage Determination for home ventilators. CMS declined the request.

The strategy now is to leverage the support of several senior committee members for H.R. 4945 and talk to champions in the Senate about a companion bill, Witter said. The bill could pass as a standalone or get included as part of a year-end package, he said.

“I think we are going to get great support,” he said.