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Wednesday in Washington Report - Legislative and Regulatory News for AAHomecare Members
AAHomecare Works to Ensure Site Visit Helps CMS Understand HME’s Challenges
If a picture is worth a thousand words, perhaps a facility tour is worth a thousand pictures. Today, AAHomecare staff participated in a comprehensive tour of an HME facility conducted for four senior officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The purpose of the visit was to better inform the CMS officials about the challenges facing HME providers and the benefits of HME for patients.

The host company was AAHomecare member Roberts Home Medical in Maryland. The tour of their Germantown, Md. office was planned by Barbara Rogers, executive director of the National Emphysema/COPD Association and Walt Gorski, AAHomecare’s VP for government affairs. Both Rogers and Gorski serve on the Program Advisory and Oversight Committee (PAOC), which was set up to advise Medicare officials about the “competitive” bidding program for HME.

Four Roberts Home Medical staff (Louis Kaufman, Roger Runkles, Gwen Turner, and President Lynn Bryson) gave the Medicare officials an overview of the process including intake, delivery, home assessments, clinical assessments, monitoring of the patient, and documentation issues. The day included visits to the homes of two patients as well.

Barbara Rogers commented beforehand that she wants to make sure CMS has “a full overview of what it takes to completely and safely service a beneficiary - especially highlighting the education, service and maintenance components.”

AAHomecare works with federal officials every week on a variety of issues, but the facility tour hosted by Roberts Home Medical provided a unique “rubber meets the road” opportunity to bring regulatory issues to life.  The Association thanks Roberts Home Medical, Barbara Rogers, and the CMS officials for taking time to participate in the informative tour. AAHomecare will continue its efforts to organize site visits for congressional and Administration officials to help educate policy makers of the importance of HME to millions of patients.

Health Reform Slow-Down Is Your Chance to Make an Impact at Washington Legislative Conference, March 1-3
As earlier reported by AAHomecare, the historic win by Republican Scott Brown in last week’s special Senate election in Massachusetts has had a significant impact on the health care reform debate in Washington.  Moderate Democrats in the House and Senate, worried about the 2010 congressional elections, are now telling AAHomecare that the health care reform bill should be scaled back. If the legislation is scaled back, AAHomecare is urging members of Congress to remove the billions of dollars of cuts to the HME sector that are included in the health reform proposals.

Hill sources have indicated that Senator Dodd (D-Conn.) has suggested to Senate leadership that consideration of the Senate health reform bill should be delayed by a month to reevaluate the strategy.  A delay in the debate means that AAHomecare members who attend the Washington Legislative Conference (March 1-3) could have a significant impact on the legislation.  This is a great opportunity to tell your members of Congress and their legislative staff face-to-face how cuts to the HME sector would be devastating to providers and interfere with patients’ access to the equipment and care they need. 

If you have not already registered for the AAHomecare Washington Legislative Conference, it is imperative you do as soon as possible.

Democratic and GOP Campaign Execs Will Provide Insight into 2010 Elections at AAHomecare Washington Legislative Conference
Guy Harrison, executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and Jon Vogel, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, have joined the list of confirmed speakers for the AAHomecare Washington Legislative Conference, March 1-3.  Harrison will speak at 1:30, followed by Vogel at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 2. Conference attendees can expect to pick up some valuable insight about the upcoming congressional elections and how they will affect health care policy.

Complex Rehab: Separate Benefit Initiative Webinars, March 4
Make plans now to participate in the complex rehab technology separate benefit initiative webinars on March 4.  Find out more about the efforts underway to obtain separate benefit recognition for Complex Rehab Technology products and services through webinars scheduled by the Project Steering Committee. The webinars will be held on Thursday, March 4 at 8:30 a.m. ET and 5:00 p.m. ET.  These presentations will provide an update on activities to date and the next steps that are being undertaken to prepare for legislative and regulatory action as we move into 2010.  Complimentary registration is provided to all interested parties.  Registration is required.  Please visit the following sites to register:

Thursday March 4th at 8:30 AM ET

Thursday March 4th at 5:00 PM ET

AAHomecare in Action!
Tyler J. Wilson, president of AAHomecare, and Cheryl Bass-Briscoe, membership manager for the Association, attended the Georgia Association of Medical Equipment Suppliers conference in Atlanta this week….  On January 22, Jay Witter, senior director of government affairs at AAHomecare, met with senior policy staff for Congressman Charlie Wilson (D-Ohio) to discuss the health care reform legislation….  Stacey Harms, manager of government affairs for AAHomecare, spoke with staff of Republican member of the House Budget Committee. The budget will be released Monday….  Jay Witter met with the Gula Graham Group to discuss political events relating to the AAHomecare Washington Legislative Conference….  Alex Bennewith, senior manager of government affairs, reached out to staff for Representatives Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), Rodney Alexander (R-La.), Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), and Emmanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) to talk about the importance of co-sponsoring H.R. 3790….  Jay Witter contacted congressional offices regarding AAHomecare’s concern about HME cuts in the FY 2011 budget including Reps. John Spratt (D-S.C.), Marion Berry (D-Ark.), Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.), John Yarmouth (D-Ky.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA)….  Stacey Harms discussed anti-fraud initiatives with Sen. George LeMieux’s staff…. Jay Witter spoke with senior HHS officials in the Deputy Secretary’s office regarding the White House Medicare Fraud Summit…. AAHomecare assisted in a tour of an HME facility for four CMS officials (see top story).

For up to the minute reports on AAHomecare in Action, follow us on twitter: www.twitter.com/aahomecare.

Member Alert: Final Communication for Non-Renewing Companies
Thank you to AAHomecare members who have renewed their membership for 2010.  For members who have yet to renew for 2010, this will be your final Wednesday in Washington from the Association.  If you are unsure of your membership status or would like to speak with a member of the staff regarding a payment plan, please contact Melva Mazur at melvam@aahomecare.org or 703-535-1895.

Member Testimonial: “AAHomecare Is the Best Voice We Have in Washington”
“I sincerely believe that the American Association for Homecare is the best voice that we have in Washington and the best investment we can make to insure the ongoing viability of our industry,” says J. David McCausland, senior vice president of planning and government affairs for the ROHO Group. 

“I shudder to think what would happen to our industry, collectively and individually, should AAHomecare, and the superb staff it employs, cease to represent us.  For those that question whether they should be a member of AAHomecare, and get actively involved, I would encourage them to consider the words of Benjamin Franklin, ‘If we do not hang together, we will all hang separately.’”  
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