WASHINGTON, D.C. – 11/02/2017 - Today, Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) introduced the bipartisan Protecting Home Oxygen & Medical Equipment (HOME) Access Act of 2017, to preserve access to durable medical equipment (DME), especially in rural communities, by addressing severe cuts to reimbursement rates. Specifically, this legislation delays the July 2016 cuts to DME payments in rural areas, which slashed Medicare reimbursement rates by more than 50 percent on average, and shields payment rates for oxygen concentrators from an outdated regulation that was never intended to apply to rates derived from the Competitive Bidding Program (CBP).
“Slashing reimbursement rates in rural areas for necessary medical equipment, such as oxygen machines, means many Iowans won’t have access to the often lifesaving equipment they need,” said Loebsack. “We must work to delay this regulation that hits rural communities hardest. I am pleased to work on a bipartisan basis with Rep. McMorris Rodgers and nearly 50 cosponsors to correct this decision and ensure patients, no matter where they live, have access to the medical equipment they need.”
“From seniors to those with disabilities or chronic conditions, people in Eastern Washington rely on durable medical equipment to go about their daily lives—whether it’s to simply walk around without falling or to breathe normally when their lungs can no longer do it on their own,” said McMorris Rodgers. “But this equipment cannot save lives if it isn’t made available to those who need it most, especially in rural communities where we know barriers to access health care already exist. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to rectify these cuts and provide relief for patients in Eastern Washington and across the county.”
NOTE: In June, Reps. Loebsack and McMorris Rodgers sent a letter to Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma and previous Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to express concerns with the cuts. The letter states, “Over numerous years, CMS has made significant policy and regulatory changes that have resulted in significant reductions in reimbursement. We are concerned that these reductions may have caused access issues for Medicare beneficiaries and shifted costs to other areas of Medicare.” In response, CMS announced a policy change addressing one of the four concerns in the letter, but did not propose changes to the DME CBP. This legislation aims to solve two of the remaining policy requests.