Year-End Update Webinar Sets CRT Stage for 2021

Since April and through the COVID-19 crisis, the Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) industry has been kept informed via Webinar updates that have discussed topics ranging from Public Health Emergency policy changes and telehealth options to the impact of the pandemic on the emotional and physical well-being of consumers, clinicians, providers and other industry stakeholders.

Co-hosted by NCART, NRRTS, the Clinician Task Force, and VGM Group/U.S. Rehab, the Webinars that started as weekly meetings are now held monthly. The last update for 2020, held Dec. 15, highlighted the issues that CRT advocates will be working on in the new year.

In good news for 2020, NCART Executive Director Don Clayback said that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has “accepted as complete” a request from the ITEM Coalition for a reconsideration of the National Coverage Determination for Mobility Assistive Equipment.

“This was the first official step in securing Medicare coverage of Power Seat Elevation and Standing Systems,” Clayback said in a bulletin to the industry on Nov. 30. “Now, CMS must make a Benefit Category Determination for these technologies and designate them as Durable Medical Equipment before moving forward with the development of coding, fee schedules, and Local Coverage Determinations.”

The ITEM Coalition is an organization that monitors and addresses access to assistive technology devices and related services.

Among the additional issues currently being addressed by NCART and other industry organizations: Securing COVID-19 vaccines for CRT providers sooner than later. In a Nov. 20 letter to Alex Azar, Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services, NCART asked that DMEPOS suppliers be included in “Phase 1a” of the vaccine’s distribution.

“These individuals are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing critical equipment and services to patients (both children and adults) in homecare and facility settings and are at high risk of exposure/transmissions,” the letter to Azar said.

“DMEPOS suppliers are among the high-risk, frontline health care workers who care for COVID-19 confirmed and COVID-19 suspected individuals who do not require hospitalization, as well as patients who are recovering post-hospitalization at home. Like others explicitly identified in the Phase 1a Population, DMEPOS suppliers work directly with patients with COVID-19 and provide essential equipment and services, such as home oxygen therapy, ventilators, CPAP/BiPAP, nebulizers, hospital beds, and more. The hands-on nature of providing, adjusting, and servicing many of these products in close proximity to patients subjects DMEPOS personnel to considerable risk for exposure to infected individuals.”

Clayback said industry organizations will also be working to stop July 1, 2021 Medicare payment cuts for CRT manual wheelchair accessories; to prevent states from making cuts to their CRT Medicaid budgets; and to make permanent the option for CRT remote services and telehealth services that have been critically helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also on the agenda for 2021: The ongoing work of establishing a separate Medicare benefit category for CRT.

Webinar updates will continue in the new year, with the next Webinar scheduled for Jan. 19, 2021.

About the Author

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