Permobil Government Relations: Quarterly Newsletter – September 2016
It has been a very busy summer for the Government Affairs Team between visits in Washington, D.C. and also in the districts. Over the past several months, we have received a lot of attention and sup-port from our congressional delegations in all three states where our facilities are located. As a result of the support, we hosted several tours for both the elected officials and their staffs and also participated in fundraisers. Please let us know if you identify other opportunities where we can participate. Below is a summary of the major events since our last update
CONGRESSMAN DIANE BLACK
The first visit came from Congressman Diane Black who represents the district where the Permobil facility is located. She attended the NSM Symposium spending time with each of the major presenters discussing the challenges from Medicare that we face and the political climate for the coming year. Afterward, she came to the floor and received demonstrations of our products and was particularly interested in Virtual Seating Coach. She is a member of the Ways and Means Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives which has primary responsibility for Medicare reimbursement.
Later in the summer Congressman Black’s legislative assistant, Katie Mitchell, came from Washington, D.C. for a tour of the facility and spent an hour and a half discussing our products and the challenges we face. The Congressman and her staff remain strong supporters in helping us get the relief we need before next year. Later the same week, Senator Alexander’s committee staffer, Kara Townsend, also came for a tour during her recess travel. Senator Alexander is the Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Although HELP does not have primary jurisdiction over Medicare reimbursement issues, it does have considerable influence from a health care policy perspective which is a big part of why we need to avoid the CRT accessories cuts. Kara spent a lot of time engaging with Larry Jackson, Darren Jernigan and John Goetz during the tour and afterward discussing the impending cuts. She and the Senator continue to be supportive in helping our cause and she reiterated the same in our follow up visit in Washington, D.C. later in the month.
SENATOR PATTY MURRAY
On August 24th, Permobil PAC co-hosted a fundraiser in the Tri-Cities area for Senator Patty Murray. Senator Murray is a long time supporter of our industry and TiLite and toured the facility several years back. Rick Forman and John Goetz attended the fundraiser on behalf of the company. She and her legislative director, Shawn Bills, spent quite a bit of time with us at the event and pledged their continued interest and help in adding CRT manual accessories to any future legislative fixes for our industry. She is the Ranking Member of the HELP Committee making her Senator Alexander’s direct counterpart.
The same week of the Senator Murray fundraiser, TiLite also received a visit from Nico Janssen and David Reeploeg with Senator Cantwell’s staff. Nico is the Senator’s health care legislative assistant in her Capitol Hill office and David is her director for Central Washington State. Both greatly enjoyed the tour and realize the importance of preventing cuts from going into place at the end of the year and also the need for CRT manual accessories to be included in the fix. Nico provided great feedback and we will continue working with him to find a solution.
Also visiting TiLite was Congressman Dan Newhouse’s health care legislative assistant, Kyle Kunkler, who came for a tour during the August Recess and is from the Tri-Cities area. Sarah Timmermans facilitated his visit from her previous interaction with him on a call to his office on Capitol Hill. The Congressman is a cosponsor of our legislation and is extremely supportive.
On September 9, Congressman Rodney Davis’s health care legislative assistant, Miles Chiotti, flew down from Washington, D.C. to tour the ROHO facility. The Congressman ‘s district covers southwest Illinois where ROHO is located. Dave McCausland and the team hosted him and discussed the ongoing reimbursement issues. Congressman Davis was an early cosponsor and will continue to champion our cause in the Capitol.
Through Dave McCausland’s relationship with Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, we have the opportunity to host a fundraiser and tour at the ROHO facility. The Congresswoman is a military veteran who served in the Iraqi War as a helicopter pilot. She was injured as a result of an attack on her helicopter losing both her legs. She was first elected to Congress in 2012 and is the first female to serve with a combat related disability. She uses a ROHO cushion and has a TiLite chair and is a great supporter of the company. Currently, she is running for Senate in Illinois and will continue to be an advocate and leader who people look to on CRT issues. After the fundraiser she will tour the ROHO plant.
Throughout the summer Dave, Darren and I have continued to engage with our champions and key leadership offices to guarantee that Congress is working toward a solution before the CRT Accessories cuts delay expires at the end of this year. Although there are some concerns around the technicalities of our industry legislation in some corners, there is strong bicameral and bipartisan support for protecting complex rehab. In response to some of the concerns, we have developed materials aimed specifically toward the policy staff on Capitol Hill. Although the materials are primarily technical in nature, I would encourage anyone in the company to visit the Government Affairs SharePoint site to read.
Advocacy Groups throughout the country are beginning to show their support for our legislation H.R. 3229/S. 2196 which would permanent prevent Medicare from cutting rates for both CRT power AND manual accessories. The ITEM Coalition led the way with the first letter which included signatures from 37 organizations asking for the legislation to be passed. The other letter, signed by 26 organizations, is from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD). Both letters were sent to the Chair and Ranking Member of each of the committees of jurisdiction in the House and Senate along with leadership. Copies of the letter can be found on the Government Affairs SharePoint. If you have trouble locating, please let one of us know and we will send along.
State Medicaid Agencies continue to be a challenge. With budget cuts and slow economic recovery a reality in
most states, health care providers are almost always the first group in any proposed cuts. We continue to work with our national association, NCART, to stay on top of what is happening. Internally, we are beginning to develop a more thorough strategy on how we can help support our sales team and providers. Several weeks ago, Darren sent out a survey to all the area sales managers asking for a list of the top states where you find the most challenges. He is going to be taking that data, along with other internal information and developing a list of the top targets for us to tackle over the next year. It is important that we get responses so we can guarantee we go after the right states. Another avenue to let us know of issues that arise is to input comments on our State Medicaid Database. There has been some traffic on the site but few comments. Please be sure to look at and if improvements can be made, let us know.
We are also participating in the NCART’s Medicaid Working Group made up of manufacturers and providers to coordinate efforts and identify areas of mutual concern. We are currently focusing on NC, IL, NV and CA but if there are others where we need to coordinate, please let us know.
AAH RURAL RELIEF
Another national organization we actively participate in is the American Association for Homecare (AAH). In January and July of 2016, Medicare implemented a series of payment rate cuts for a wide variety of DME items (including our accessory and seating products when not used on Group 3 power wheelchairs). AAH has been striving to try to roll back these cuts. In July, the Senate passed a bill by unanimous consent which would have rolled back the July Medicare cuts; however, the House adjourned for the August recess before taking any action. Efforts will continue during the September session.