Make it stop, all of it

 - 
10/20/2016

There are a number of reasons why I want this election cycle to end, some of which will remain nameless.

I’m sure I’m not alone.

After it was clear nothing would get done before the elections, industry stakeholders targeted the lame-duck session starting in mid-November as a small window to get bid relief legislation passed before the end of the year.

We reported some good news in late September, that stakeholders have the word of House Speaker Paul Ryan that he will address bid relief legislation in the lame duck.

(Although I saw at least one comment on twitter to the effect of, “We’ve heard that before,” AAHomecare’s Jay Witter says it’s a level of assurance that stakeholders have never had before.)

But there was bad news this week, with “Inside Sources” reporting that Rep. Frank Upton, R-Mich., is the “chief roadblock” to bid relief legislation passing.

While Upton’s not opposed to bid relief legislation, he doesn’t want anything to interfere with getting the 21st Century Cures Act passed and, unfortunately, without his support as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, it’s unlikely bid relief legislation will move forward before the end of the year, “Inside Sources” says.

It’s a predicament that, unfortunately, HME stakeholders find themselves in regularly. Every time we put an issue to bed, I look at the previous year’s issue just for kicks. What were the big stories? What issues continue to linger?

At the top of the November 2015 issue: “Key up for small window: Stakeholders race against time with bid expansion slated for Jan. 1.”

This was, of course, before that first round of cuts ended up going into effect in non-bid areas on July 1, followed by a second round on July 1, delivering a 50% total reimbursement cut, on average, to providers in rural America.

The industry has had a few wins in its fight against competitive bidding, but a retroactive delay in this second round of cuts would be a big one. It would not only soften the blow of the reimbursement cuts, but also send a strong message that not all is well with the program.

Additionally, a win here would reward stakeholders and providers for their relentless efforts.

I talked to Melissa Cross, vice president of the homecare division at O.E. Meyer, today. She’s the recipient of the newly named Van Miller Homecare Champion Award. She called competitive bidding the “biggest battle of our lives.”

“What AAHomecare, VGM and others are doing for this industry—they’re the true winners of this award,” she said. “They’re in the trenches day in and day out. We have to step up so their work means something.”

So let the elections be over with already, so we can get to what, hopefully, won’t be a lame-duck session.