MWC Provisions Included in Year-End Appropriations Bill
- By Laurie Watanabe
- Dec 16, 2019
Update: The House passed H.R. 1865 on Tues., Dec. 17. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill this week.
A Congressional bill related to year-end spending includes language that would permanently exempt complex rehab technology (CRT) manual wheelchairs and CRT manual wheelchair accessories from Medicare’s controversial competitive bidding program.
According to Dec. 16 bulletins from the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) and NCART, the bill also includes an 18-month hold on competitive bidding-derived pricing for CRT manual wheelchair accessories, effective Jan. 1, 2020.
The new bill is H.R. 1865.
Don Clayback, NCART’s Executive Director, said in his notice to stakeholders, “We are not over the finish line, but it is in sight, as the bill has bipartisan leadership support and is expected to be voted on in the House tomorrow [Dec. 17] and in the Senate by Friday [Dec. 20].”
Passage of the bill would be a tremendous holiday announcement for an industry that has worked for years to free CRT manual wheelchairs from competitive bidding, a Medicare program that views products as interchangeable, generic commodities. It’s a perspective that’s at odds with the customized nature of complex rehab technology, in which seating and mobility systems are painstakingly assessed, fit and built on an individual basis to fit particular children and adults with permanent, severe, and sometimes progressive disabilities.
Clayback expressed appreciation to a number of Representatives and Senators for including the CRT language in the larger bill: “Our sincere thanks to our CRT champions Reps. John Larson (D-Conn.) and Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), and Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) for their commitment and hard work. We're also grateful to Energy & Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-Ore.); Ways & Means Committee Chair Richie Neal (D-Mass.) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-Texas); and Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).”
AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan said in his announcement, “This legislation ensures patient access and choice for the full range of CRT wheelchairs going forward, and also gives suppliers an important measure of relief on reimbursement for manual CRT accessories while we advocate for a longer-term legislative or regulatory fix. HME and mobility stakeholders who helped build support for protecting access to CRT going back to bills in the last Congressional session deserve credit and thanks for making this happen.”
Clayback confirmed the significance of the bill: “Passage of this legislation will be a MAJOR win for people with disabilities who depend on CRT. A huge thank you to all the organizations and individuals of the CRT community for the collective and persistent advocacy efforts. We will keep you updated as we hear more.”
This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.
Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.