Permobil Government Affairs: Quarterly Newsletter – March 2017
After many fireworks, political horse trading between coalitions and several delayed votes, it looks like ObamaCare is here to stay for now. As I know many of you are well aware, there were proposed changes within the final product that concerned many in our industry and those who are currently benefiting from health coverage. What this entire episode shows is that health care is not a simple thing to tackle. Our country and many inside the majority party are deeply divided on the best way to address the challenge. Health care will continue to be a major area of focus. However, at least for now, it appears that both Congressional leadership and the President are ready to move to other priority issues. Infrastructure and broad based tax reform look like possible next steps. Stay tuned for more updates as we examine the possible implications to our business if tax reform is the next goal.
As many of you are aware, Medicare is no longer allowing for titanium upgrades to be coded under the miscellaneous code (K0108) for their enrollees. At the end of last year, their DME contractors put out a joint publication claiming that the titanium material was taken into consideration when the code was created and therefore it is no longer allowed to be separately billed. The most concerning issue with this policy change, besides the fact that we believe they are incorrect in their assertion that they included titanium materials, is that this does not allow for a Medicare enrollee to get the upgrade even if they want to pay for it with their own money. This effectively denies access to these superior products and tells the enrollee what they can and cannot do with their own resources. Because of this , we have been able to engage the advocacy community who have agreed to send letters to the CMS asking them to reverse this policy. We have also enlisted our key champions in Congress who have reached out to Medicare. Most recently, Dave McCausland was able to engage with Senator Tammy Duckworth who agreed to raise this issue directly with the new Administrator. You will recall that the Senator is a supporter of our industry and is a titanium wheelchair user herself. We also hope to have an advocacy engagement site and call to action up and running very soon so be on the lookout! With pressure mounting from advocates, end users, Congress and industry, Medicare will hopefully feel the pressure and reverse this harmful and unfair policy.
Recently, the Senate finally confirmed Seem Verma as the new Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Ms. Verma has extensive experience in helping to redesign state Medicaid programs including Indiana, Ohio, Iowa and Kentucky. She was also in-volved in crafting Tennessee’s expansion proposal a couple of years ago. She believes in a consumer directed approach to reforming Medicaid and would like to see states have greater flexibility to design programs that fit each unique population. In fact, only a week after her confirmation, Ms. Verma sent a letter with Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tom Price indicating that they would allow for this flexibility to state governors. Even outside of ObamaCare repeal failure, we will see her take steps to ward that end. It will be important that we stay up to date and engaged in each state to ensure our end users and products are protected in any reforms.
The CRT accessories cuts delay we were able to get at the end of last year is due to expire at the end of June. With the deadline in mind, we are coordinating with NCART and AAHomeCare to request meetings with both Secretary Price and Administrator Verma to ask for an administrative fix to this issue. We have participated in crafting memorandums to each of them explaining the issue and how it can be easily fixed. With many moving over to the Administration from supportive offices in Congress familiar with the issue, we are hopeful that we will be able to get it fixed. In an effort to keep the issue in everyone’s mind in Congress and as a backup, the CRT Accessories bill from last year was reintroduced. The new bill number in the House is H.R. 1362 and S. 486 in the Senate. Industry is actively seeking cosponsors for the bill based on last year’s champions. If your Congressman or Senator cosponsored last year please reach back out and ask for their support again!
As many of you are aware, spring and early summer are when many organizations hold advocacy and policy conferences. We are actively engaged and sponsor many of these events. The Government Affairs Team along with other members of the Permobil family will be attending and participating in these conferences. Below are some of the major highlights for the next couple of months.
TXRPC—ANNUAL CONFERENCE: MARCH 30-APRIL 1, DALLAS, TX
NCART—NATIONAL CRT LEADERSHIP AND ADVOCACY CONFERENCE: APRIL 26-27, WASHINGTON, D.C.
ALSA— ALS ADVOCACY CONFERENCE: MAY 14-16, WASHINGTON, D.C.
AAHOMECARE—WASHINGTON LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE: MAY 24-25, WASHINGTON, D.C.
UNITED SPINAL ASSOCIATION—ROLL ON CAPITOL HILL: JUNE 11-14, WASHINGTON, D.C.
SUPPORTING OUR CHAMPIONS
To show our appreciation for those Mem-bers of Congress who champion our causes in Washington, D.C., we often attend fund-raisers and other events to show support. On March 31, Dave McCausland is going to Pittsburgh, PA to attend a fundraiser for Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). As many of you know, Senator Casey is one of our most consistent champions in Congress and has been the lead Democrat sponsor of our CRT accessories cut delay legislation. He will join many from the industry to express our gratitude for the Senator’s tireless efforts to guarantee our end users continue having access to the products they need.
DARREN AT THE STATE CAPITOL
The Government Affairs Team and the Permobil family are fortunate to have a Tennessee State Legislator on our team. For those new to Permobil, Darren Jernigan who is our Senior Manager of Government Affairs, is also a State Representative in Tennessee representing the 11th district. He was just reelected to his third term in office. Darren sits on the House Health Committee and is in a key position to monitor and advocate on behalf of our industry in this important committee. All
health care related legislation passes his desk so we are fortunate to have him there.
HERE TO HELP
The Government Affairs Team is here to help in any way possible. Whether it is support with dealers, reaching out to a local advocacy group, help with understand policy or even a general update on the state of politics, we are here to provide assistance and feedback any way we can. We welcome any feedback or suggestions on what you would like to see or hear from us. Below is our contact information and pictures for those we have not met in person before. We look forward to hearing from you!
John Goetz– Director of Government Affairs
Darren Jernigan— Sr. Manager of Government Affairs
Dave McCausland— Government Affairs