Thursday, July 18, 2013

Virtual Fly-In: Early Reports Are Exciting!

With a lot on their plates, asking suppliers to take time to call Congress to convince them to stop the DME “competitive” bidding program was a tough request to make. But dealing with a program that’s creating huge access issues and is already putting suppliers out of business is far more difficult. 

The interest in this industry-wide effort was certainly evident in yesterday’s webinar with Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), when attendee traffic overwhelmed the telephone service! For anyone who wasn’t able to get through, you can get a sense of what we talked about by checking out the presentation slides from the webinar.

As of late Thursday afternoon, the homecare community has generated approximately 2,500 new emails to Congress using our Action Center since we updated the message on Tuesday, and we suspect that number will increase significantly through the end of the day on Friday.

While these numbers that we can confirm are encouraging, we would also like to hear feedback from any of your calls to Capitol Hill, or responses to emails that you sent. We would also be interested in hearing about any organized efforts that companies or state associations undertook today.

All feedback—even from those offices that may have told you that CMS has assured them that there are very few complaints about the bidding program—is helpful for our lobbying team here. Please forward any intel to Gordon Barnes at

Keep the pressure on! Talk to your peers, friends, families, patients, and anyone else affected by the bidding program. Tell them that their help is needed to convince Congress that the bidding program is bad medicine for patients, providers, and our nation's health.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

CMS Can’t Handle the Truth About Round 2

Less than two weeks after implementation, problems with Round 2 of the bidding program are becoming increasingly evident. AAHomecare is receiving reports of delays, equipment shortages, and contractors refusing services in bid areas around the country. Yet, CMS is reporting just a few dozen complaints.

It is critical that home medical equipment providers report problems with the bidding program to their representatives, especially in cases where patients are seeing new barriers and complications in getting the products, services, or maintenance they need.

In congressional hearings and on Capitol Hill visits made by the HME community and the AAHomecare lobbying team over the past year, many members of Congress and their staffs expressed sympathy for the effects of the bidding program on our sector, but they were not convinced that patients would suffer significant disruptions. Now that the program is lurching forward and is indeed causing serious problems for Medicare patients, we need to make sure Congress is fully aware that these disruptions are taking place.

AAHomecare is coordinating efforts with VGM, The MED Group, and state associations to hold a virtual fly-in next Thursday, July 18, for providers and patients from all across the country. This virtual fly-in is the perfect opportunity to tell Congress about problems you or your patients have experienced since the implementation of Round 2.

You can use the AAHomecare Action Center to quickly send a message directly to your congressional representatives, or look up phone numbers to call those offices on July 18. Email Gordon Barnes at if you need any assistance.

In the meantime, we are still collecting information about provider problems through our dedicated email address:  Don’t worry though, we won’t use any details about you or your company when we talk to members of Congress unless we have your permission first.

Don’t let CMS pull the wool over Congress’ eyes! Representatives and Senators MUST hear from you and your patients—current or former—about problems with the bidding program.  Please add your voice to our efforts on July 18. Mark your calendar!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Was That the Earth Moving Under Our Feet?

Although you may not have felt it, on July 1, 2013, the earth certainly moved under the feet of DME suppliers across the country. It was the beginnings of a tectonic shift in how consumers will get their home medical equipment and supplies. Cracks began to show up on the surface of the DME world over the past months but on July 1, fissures began to open up that will swallow a large number of suppliers and the patients they serve. How bad this movement will be is uncertain and it will be weeks before the impact will be known. In the meantime, there is work to do.

The last thing this industry can afford to do is let the shock of July 1 cloud the more urgent need to take every possible action to expose the truth about the CMS DME bidding program. Never has the need for DME suppliers to not give up the fight been greater.

Transition to this new world order for DME will be anything but smooth, and every supplier has a duty to not only insure that the problems are exposed, but also to insure that every member of Congress is engaged. 
We must somehow help Congress get past partisan politics, past the purported savings touted by CMS, and past the mid-term election blinders. We know that literally hundreds of members of Congress agree that there are problems with the current DME bidding program, now we must get them to act.

Remember that most action by Congress is constituent driven; in other words, voter driven. Since a third of the Senate and the entire House will be campaigning to keep their jobs, we must make sure that the problems with the DME bidding program are laid squarely at the feet of these elected officials.

Do not give up the fight until we have lost this war, and we have not lost yet, we just have to change our battle plan. The flawed bidding program has begun, but it will not succeed. If we believe that it is wrong, then we also believe it will not serve patients well. The problems and patient complaints must be gathered and shared with Congress.  Additionally, the impact on suppliers, both contract winners and those not receiving contracts, must be shared with Congress.

State associations and suppliers everywhere must step up their advocacy game. Yes, we are all weary of the fight that has been raging for years, but we have the forces of good on our side. Yogi Berra said, “it ain’t over til it’s over,” and this fight is far from over.

Here’s what you can do:
  1. Contact Congress—demand a delay for Round 2 and ask for support of H.R. 1717
  2. Get patients involved—ask them to make three calls to register their complaints
a.       Congress (1-202-224-3121)
b.      People for Quality Care Medicare beneficiary hotline  (1-800-404-8702)
c.       CMS (1-800-Medicare / 1-800-633-4237)

If you need help with how to fight back, contact Wayne Stanfield, the vice president of provider relations at AAHomecare. His email address is and his phone number is 202-372-0757.