Deadline Extended for Congressional Sign-On Letter

The deadline has been extended for a House of Representatives sign-on letter seeking to protect access to Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) manual wheelchair accessories.

The deadline for members of Congress to sign on is now Fri., Sept. 18.

The bipartisan letter, written by Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), is addressed to Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

An Aug. 6 e-mail to CRT stakeholders from NCART said, “The letter relates to the need for CMS to ‘make permanent’ the temporary policy change that was included in 2019 year-end legislation regarding the Medicare payment amounts for CRT manual wheelchair accessories.”

In the letter, Larson and Zeldin reference a 2017 CMS-issued “policy clarification” that now protects consumer access to CRT power wheelchair accessories.

“However, this did not address Complex manual wheelchair accessories,” the letter says. “To address this gap, in December 2019, Congress passed language from H.R. 1865 to make clear that our intent was for power and manual complex wheelchair accessories to be treated the same. Complex wheelchairs and accessories are critical to allow people with severe disabilities the ability to participate fully in their own lives.”

The letter distinguishes between standard and CRT accessories, noting that CRT accessories “are not off-the-shelf commodity items, and Competitive Bidding Program pricing for standard wheelchair accessories should not be applied to much different Complex wheelchair accessories.”

Larson and Zeldin pointed out that CRT accessories “are not nice-to-have items, but instead provide important benefits like preventing skin pressure sores, positioning/supporting the person upright so they can breathe, and allowing the operation of the wheelchair to be tailored to their physical limitations.”

The Representatives are asking Verma to permanently protect CRT manual wheelchair accessories the same way that access to CRT power wheelchair accessories is protected.

Signing onto the letter by visiting www.protectmymobility.org takes only a couple of minutes. Identify your Representative by typing in your ZIP code. You can then send the Web site-generated e-mail asking for your Representative to sign on in support.

As of Aug. 31, NCART said nine members of the House, in addition to Larson and Zeldin, have signed the letter.

About the Author

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