The latest version of the 21st Century CURES bill, in consideration on Capitol Hill, includes language that provides relief for rural HME providers and delays cuts for CRT accessories.

More specifically, according to a media release from American Association for Homecare, the proposed bill features language that would retroactively roll back the second round of Medicare competitive bidding-derived cuts for rural and non-bid area home medical equipment (HME) providers for 6 months, as well as a provision to further delay the application of bidding-derived pricing for complex rehab technology accessories for an additional 6 months.

The proposed legislation extends the transition period for the second part of the bidding-derived cuts from June 30, 2016 to December 31, 2016, paving the way for HME suppliers to recoup those reductions for items with dates of service from July 1 to the end of 2016;

In addition, it delays the application of competitive bidding-derived pricing reductions for complex rehab technology (CRT) accessories used with Group 3 power wheelchairs until July 1, 2017, extending the original 12-month delay granted by Congress in December of 2015.

Also, the legislation accelerates the application of plans to limit state Medicaid reimbursement amounts for HME to the Medicare fee-for-service payment rates, including applicable competitive bidding rates.

Further, the legislation instructs the Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS) to conduct a study on the impact of the bidding program on the overall number of HME providers and availability of HME products over the course of 2016; and requires HHS to reissue payment regulations for items and services furnished on or after January 1, 2019, with adjustments to the non-bid fee schedule in some areas based on stakeholder input, costs, volumes and numbers of suppliers serving those areas, the release explains.

“This legislation will help home medical equipment providers in rural areas stay in business and serve their communities while we continue to work for a more realistic and sustainable pricing environment for all HME providers,” says Tom Ryan, president & CEO of the American Association for Homecare, in the release. “It’s just the first step in efforts to protect the rural home medical equipment infrastructure, but it’s an important one.”

“This legislation will also ensure that individuals with significant disabilities continue to receive the specialized technology they depend on while we continue to advocate for a permanent fix that will keep CRT accessories outside the purview of the bidding program,” Ryan adds. “That’s a very significant development for providers serving a highly vulnerable patient population that depends on these products.”

Therefore, Ryan concludes, “We strongly urge the House and Senate to pass this legislation that will allow rural home medical equipment providers and companies furnishing CRT accessories to stay in operation and serve their patients in the coming months while we work towards a longer-term fix.”

[Source(s): American Association for Homecare, PR Newswire]