Washington Becomes First State to Pass CRT Recognition Bill

Washington has become the first state to legally define and recognize complex rehabilitation technology (CRT).

House Bill 1445 was passed on April 22, and was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee on May 8. It will take effect Jan. 1, 2014.

The bill, which concerns CRT in Washington’s Medicaid program, passed unanimously in the Senate (46-0) and in the House by a 92-3 margin.

Protecting Access & Keeping Consumers in Their Communities

A news announcement from NCART indicated the bill had been introduced in January.

The bill described its purpose as three-fold: To protect access to “important technology and supporting services” for patients with complex medical needs; to establish and improve safeguards for delivering and providing CRT; and to “provide supports for complex needs patients to stay in the home or community setting, prevent institutionalization, and prevent hospitalizations and other costly secondary complications.”

As a result of recognizing CRT, the bill calls for the establishment of a “budget and services category separate from other categories, such as durable medical equipment and supplies.”

It also acknowledges the “customized nature of complex rehabilitation technology and the broad range of services necessary to meet the unique medical and functional needs of people with complex medical needs.”

Under the new law, CRT will need to be provided by qualified CRT suppliers, and provided to patients who have been evaluated by clinicians specializing in the field.

The bill defines what a complex-needs patient is, as well as what CRT is.

And it emphasizes the fact that CRT is individually configured per each patient’s needs through a rigorous process of assessment that includes “measuring, fitting, programming, adjusting or adapting the device.”

“Qualified complex rehabilitation technology suppliers” must be accredited as such and must employ at least one complex rehabilitation technology professional with RESNA certification.

Work-Group Success

The new Washington state legislation comes after hard work by the Washington CRT Work Group composed of providers, manufacturers, consumers and clinicians, NCART said in its news announcement.

Among the stakeholders testifying about CRT was Bruce Thompson, president of AARO Medical Supplies, Aberdeen, Wash. Thompson was a member of the Washington CRT Work Group.

“We really appreciate the legislature giving us the opportunity to educate them regarding CRT,” he said through NCART. “These changes will have positive benefits to both people with disabilities who rely on this equipment and to the state that provides coverage and payment.”

Jerry Knight, Numotion’s executive VP, hopes the new legislation will have an impact on the policies in other states.

“Our group was focused on two primary objectives from the start,” Knight said. ”One, passing legislation to protect and improve access to CRT, and two, building on a collaborative relationship with the legislature and the Health Care Authority. I think we were able to accomplish both, and the group looks forward to continuing working together as we move ahead. Hopefully, the progress we have made here in Washington will assist other states in managing CRT access issues.”

H.R. 942, which would establish a Medicare separate benefit category for CRT, was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year. S. 948, the companion Senate bill, was introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) on May 14, according to NCART Executive Director Don Clayback.

About the Author

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

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