H.R. 4378 Gains Momentum

H.R. 4378, the bill that would create a separate Medicare benefit category for complex rehab technology, is gaining steam, says NCART Executive Director Don Clayback.

Since its introduction to the House on April 16 by Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), the bill has added 15 co-sponsors, including several from the crucial Ways & Means committee.

As of June 28, the co-sponsors - a bipartisan group -- include Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.), Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), Rep. James Langevin (D-R.I.) and Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.).

Crowley, Nunes, Larson, Lewis, Neal and Rangel are Ways & Means committee members; Harper is an Energy & Commerce committee member, while Langevin is a member of the Disability Caucus.

"As we enter the summer and Congress is in election mode, it's a great time to be reaching out to your Members," Clayback said in an update sent to industry members and other stakeholders. "Our task is to get every member of Congress educated on complex rehab technology (CRT) and signed on to H.R. 4378 in the House or to a companion bill once introduced in the Senate."

Clayback suggested that industry members use a new Web site dedicated to the separate benefit category effort: access2crt.org.

"This houses the 'Intro to CRT' video, various advocacy materials, and most importantly the link that enables anyone to send an e-mail to their Congressman and Senators asking for their support," Clayback said. "It also houses a co-sponsor scoreboard so you can see who has already signed on. This is the place to point people to so they can get engaged in our efforts."

Clayback also distributed an updated list of 44 consumer, clinician, supplier and manufacturer organizations supporting H.R. 4378.

The list includes groups familiar to the complex rehab industry -- such as the American Occupational Therapy Association, the American Physical Therapy Association, and the Clinician Task Force - as well as a wide range of consumer groups, including the Blinded Veterans Association, Easter Seals, Paralyzed Veterans of America and the National Council on Independent Living.

Clayback also anticipated questions that members of Congress might ask when considering H.R. 4378.

"One common question is 'What is the cost of the bill?'" Clayback said. "Since the bill was just introduced in April, we do not have a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score yet. To obtain a CBO score, we need to get more co-sponsors behind this bill so the CBO will make it a priority."

Clayback added that the separate benefit category's steering committee -- AAHomecare, the Clinician Task Force, NCART, NRRTS, RESNA and United Spinal Association - had hired a consulting firm to address the question of cost.

Dobson & Davanzo, a Washington, D.C.-based economic consulting firm, used a CBO model to develop a score, Clayback said. "Their report estimated the cost at about $5 million a year, or $56 million over 10 years."

Should the official CBO score be higher than that estimate, Clayback said, "We... will work to make changes."

He adds, "We are asking for co-sponsors to sign on with that assumption and recognizing the merits of the legislation. It's important to note that this cost does not factor in any of the savings that will result if people have better access to CRT. Better access will reduce the major healthcare costs that result from such things as development of pressure sores, progression of orthopedic issues, increased hospitalizations, etc."

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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