New CRT Wheelchair Accessory Bills Introduced in House & Senate
CAPITOL: BRANDON BOURDAGES/SHUTTERSTOCK
New bills regarding funding
for complex rehab technology
(CRT) wheelchair accessories
have been introduced into the
U.S. House of Representatives
and U.S. Senate.
According to NCART
Executive Director Don
Clayback, the new bill
numbers are H.R. 1361 for
the House and S. 486 for
In a March 3 letter to industry stakeholders, Clayback
thanked the “CRT champions” who introduced the bills:
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio),
and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) and Rep. John Larson
The bills seek to prevent the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) from applying prices
derived from its highly controversial Medicare competitive
bidding program to the CRT accessories used on
complex manual and power wheelchairs.
This issue has been before Congress in the past, and
has enjoyed strong bipartisan support. But previous bills
expired before being passed.
Seeking More Than Delays
Among the industry’s arguments against CMS’s funding
for CRT wheelchair accessories is that the agency is
wrongly applying competitive bidding pricing for standard
wheelchair accessories to complex rehab wheelchair
NCART also points out that the Medicare
Improvements for Patients & Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA)
already excluded complex rehab power wheelchairs
and their accessories from CMS’s ongoing competitive
In a March 8 letter to the industry, the American
Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) acknowledged
that the CMS-backed funding policy has
been partially delayed twice in the past, but argues
that the CRT industry and the consumers it serves
needs more than stopgap
measures. The most recent
and current delay, which
came at the end of last year
as part of the well-publicized
21st Century CURES Act,
expires July 1.
AAHomecare said in the
bulletin, “CRT providers need
a permanent fix that will
ensure that they can continue
to support individuals with
serious disabilities that depend on this specialized
equipment. If bidding-derived pricing is allowed to
slash reimbursement rates, these companies simply
can’t provide the level of clinical care associated with
CRT products and accessories, including patient
evaluation, as well as configuration, fitting and adjustments
for the equipment.”
Is a Solution Finally on the Horizon?
AAHomecare’s announcement quoted Georgie
Blackburn, VP of government relations/legislative affairs
for BLACKBURN’S in Tarentum, Pa.
“After two timely delays, rehab providers are finally at
a critical juncture where the ill-conceived proposed cuts
to 171 CRT accessory codes can be put to rest,” said
Blackburn. “Plain and simple, MIPPA 2008 exempted CRT
power chairs and accessories from the bid program. I’m
thrilled to see that we have Congressional leadership
recognizing this, resulting in S.486 and H.R. 1361, and
that we now have Sec. Tom Price leading HHS [the U.S.
Department of Health & Human Services]. I have never
felt so optimistic that logic will prevail when it comes to
public policy for CRT!”
Clayback said in his March 3 announcement that
NCART would next work on signing up cosponsors for
each of the bills.
“We will be updating our materials to help you reach
out to your members of Congress,” he said. “Stay tuned
and polish up your advocacy skills. This is going to be a
great year for CRT!
This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of Mobility Management.