Congressional Session Ends Without H.R. 7217 Passage
- By Laurie Watanabe
- Jan 03, 2019
H.R. 7217, the Medicaid bill that included provisions for complex rehab technology (CRT) manual wheelchair accessories, was not passed by the Senate before the end of the 115th Congress.
That means the CRT industry will need to start the legislative process over again with a new Congress, which began Jan. 3, 2019.
Last month, the original CRT manual wheelchair accessories bill — H.R. 3730 — was included in a new, larger Medicaid bill, H.R. 7217, also known as the IMPROVE Act. After passing the House on Dec. 11, the bill went to the Senate.
H.R. 7217 was subjected to the Senate’s “hotline” process, which gives individual Senators the opportunity to voice any objections they have. The hope was that the bill could be expedited via that process.
While no Senators objected to the CRT provisions in the bill, NCART noted in late December that some Senators were questioning other portions of the bill.
In a Jan. 3 bulletin to stakeholders, NCART Executive Director Don Clayback said, “We were very encouraged on December 11 with the passage of H.R. 7217 in the House by a vote of 400 to 11. But as it then moved to the Senate, it stalled based on concerns from a small number of Senators with one of the other bill provisions regarding Medicaid services for children with complex needs.
“Since the bill was being handled in the Senate through their expedited ‘Unanimous Consent’ process, the lack of 100-percent Senate support prevented passage. And while we continued to advocate in the Senate through the holidays, resolving the government shutdown was the primary focus and made things more challenging.”
Clayback indicated that while the CRT provision was not made into law this time around, its passage in the House will provide a foundation to build on as the industry continues to seek a legislative fix to the manual wheelchair accessories problem.
Getting legislation and policies to protect access to CRT for people with disabilities is not a sprint, it's a marathon,” Clayback noted. “While we did not get final Senate passage this year, the significant progress we made puts us in a strong position for 2019 and served to build up CRT awareness and support that will help us as we work to get a Separate Benefit Category for CRT.”
Clayback added that NCART and its allies would work with the new Congress on the issue and keep stakeholders involved as the process gets underway.
The original CRT bill, H.R. 3730, was introduced in September 2017 by Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) and had bipartisan support.
Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.