NCART: CRT Wheelchair Accessories Bills Being Considered As Year-End Approaches

Don Clayback, executive director of NCART, said two bills concerning Medicare funding rates for complex rehab wheelchair accessories are “being actively considered for inclusion” for attachment to larger legislation as Congress moves closer to adjourning.

In a Dec. 4 e-mail to stakeholders, Clayback said the decision on whether or not to include H.R.3229/S. 2196 with other legislation would likely come “over the next few days.” Timing is critical, as Clayback said Congress will likely adjourn the week of Dec. 7, and the new funding policies are due to start Jan. 1.

Clayback had reported at the end of November that the 2016 Medicare fee schedule, which included the new payment rates, confirmed “major reductions, as high as 30 percent to 40 percent or more to complex rehab wheelchair accessories.”

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) used pricing derived from its Medicare DME competitive bidding program to create the new allowables.

Complex rehab technology (CRT) advocates contend that CMS’s plans are in direct conflict with the Medicare Improvement for Patients & Providers Act (MIPPA), which in 2008 exempted CRT from the competitive bidding program.

H.R. 3229, introduced by Rep. Lee M. Zeldin, R-N.Y., seeks to close a language loophole that CMS is using to apply competitive bidding prices to CRT wheelchair accessories. S. 2196 is the companion bill for the Senate.

Clayback said NCART held its board meeting on Nov. 30 in Washington, D.C., which was followed by a robust week of legislative activity on Capitol Hill. “There have been over 75 in-person meetings with Congressional offices and committees [during the week of Nov. 30] alone,” Clayback noted.

He added, “While there remains uncertainty, our issue has been acknowledged, and Congress knows that they need to do to stop these inappropriate January 1 cuts from being implemented in order to protect access for people with disabilities.”

Clayback said he expected a decision to be rendered this week.

About the Author

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

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