TAHCS' Johnson: Welcome to H.R. 3790
DALLAS — Just a few weeks after being introduced, the bill that would eliminate DMEPOS competitive bidding is gaining traction among legislators.
As of Friday, H.R. 3790, introduced on Oct. 13 by Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Fla., had garnered 53 cosponsors.
"This places us over halfway to our goal of 100 cosponsors within only three weeks," said Barry Johnson, president of the Texas Alliance for Home Care Services and one of the bill's originators. "We expect more congressional support as members fully understand the tremendous cost savings of our budget-neutral legislation."
The goal, Johnson said, is to see the bill "signed and enacted on Jan. 1" — or the first business day after Jan. 1. "In the words of Larry the Cable Guy," he said, "we need to get 'er done."
With the Meek bill, providers are finally armed to fight the battle against competitive bidding, according to Johnson, who stressed that more providers are needed on the front lines. "We need more providers to step up to the plate and tell the story," he said. "It's an education process."
He knows it's tough for providers who have never been politically active before. Johnson said when he visits a legislator's office, "I say, 'I'm not here to bother you; I'm here to tell you something that is going to make everyone's life better.'"
A respiratory therapist for 40 years, Johnson is a salesman when it comes to the Meek bill because he believes it gives CMS just what it wants and protects patients and providers at the same time. "The point of competitive bidding was to reduce the number of providers out there. Competition reduction. Well, OK," said Johnson. "Reduce fraud and abuse — absolutely. Get more for your money. I'm a taxpayer and I'm all for that.
"But what if I could do all that stuff better, faster, quicker and give you back $25 million? Would you go for that? Well, welcome to H.R. 3790."
Johnson ticked off the bill's selling points:
Significant savings. "First off, we have a bill with a number on it. It's pretty tough to see the light when no one turns the light bulb on," Johnson said. Up to this point, industry representatives could only provide legislators with information and particulars about the devastating problems competitive bidding would create for small business providers and Medicare beneficiaries, he said.