Medicare Competitive Bidding

In March 2016, President Obama released his FY 2017 budget, which proposed that inhalation drugs, all prosthetic and orthotics, and ostomy, tracheostomy and urological supplies be listed as products subjected to competitive bidding. The Society expressed serious concerns with this proposal and in response to the flawed policy approach; the Society’s leadership developed an advocacy action plan to keep ostomy products excluded from Competitive Bidding. The Society will continue to fight to exclude these programs in the future.

In July 2016, CMS’s Medicare Evidence Development & Coverage Advisory Committee (MEDCAC) held a meeting that focused on obtaining recommendations regarding treatment strategies for patients with lower extremity chronic venous disease.

President Trump has not yet released his complete FY 2018 budget. It’s worth noting that new HHS Secretary Tom Price has been a vocal critic of CMS Competitive Bidding Program.

Nursing Workforce

Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price recently testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies on the President’s “skinny budget” proposal, which recommended that health professions and nursing workforce programs (Title VIII Nursing Workforce) be cut by $403 million dollars and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) be cut by $5.8 billion dollars, or 20 percent.

During the hearing, members of Congress pointed to the NIH being the front line of the U.S. healthcare operations, arguing a $6 billion cut would be devastating to the nation’s well-being. Rep. DeLauro (D-CT), Rep. Lowey (D-NY) and Rep. Roybal-Allard (D-CA) spoke against the extreme cuts saying they would not support the cuts proposed to the nursing community, particularly the training programs. Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) also echoed this concern.

Rep. Davis (R-IL) and Rep. Bonamici (D-OR) circulated a “Dear Colleague” urging Members of the House to support Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development Programs in FY 2018. Davis and Bonamici are asking the Appropriations Committee to allocate $244 million for the Nursing Workforce Development Programs in Title VIII in a letter that notes nurses are “essential members of any healthcare team” and “comprise the largest population of the healthcare workforce.”

Title VIII programs have helped build the supply and distribution of qualified nurses needed in all healthcare settings. Title VIII programs bolster nursing education at all levels, from entry-level preparation through graduate study, and provide support for institutions that educate nurses for practice in rural and medically underserved communities.

Earlier this year, Rep. Joyce (R-OH) introduced H.R. 959, “Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2017,” and over 25 Members have signed on as co-sponsors to the Bi-partisan bill, which aims to amend Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act to extend advanced education nursing grants to support clinical nurse specialist programs, and for other purposes.

Medicare Contractors Propose Changes to Wound Care Payments

The Society recently submitted comments to two contractors, First Coast Option and Novitas Solutions, who have proposed concerning changes to wound care policies. The Society provided comments directly to the changes available here: First Coast Option and Novitas Solutions, as well as participated in developing comment through the Alliance of Wound Care Stakeholders

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