A large group of consumer and clinician organizations has signed a letter to Congress in support of H.R. 3730, the new House bill for complex rehab technology (CRT) wheelchair accessories.
The Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare & Medicaid (ITEM) Coalition addressed the Sept. 21 letter to six members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Thirty-two organizations in all signed the letter. On the consumer side, organizations signing on included the Amputee Coalition, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Paralyzed Veterans of America and United Spinal Association.
On the professional side, signees included the American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, the American Occupational Therapy Association, the American Physical Therapy Association and the Clinician Task Force.
The letter’s signees “strongly urge” Congress to pass H.R. 3730, which would exempt CRT manual wheelchair accessories from being reimbursed according to pricing derived from Medicare’s highly controversial competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment.
“Power and manual CRT wheelchairs and CRT accessories or components are essential for a small segment of wheelchair users, about 10 percent of the Medicare population with significant disabilities such as ALS, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury,” the letter said. “For these wheelchair users, a wheelchair is not complete, usable or safe without the appropriate complex rehab technology components included.”
The letter acknowledged that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) earlier this year exempted CRT power wheelchair accessories from such pricing.
“Unfortunately, CMS did not extend the new rule to CRT manual wheelchairs, making a legislative fix necessary to preserve Medicare beneficiary access to CRT accessories and components in manual wheelchairs.”
The ITEM Coalition’s letter pointed out that consumers in need of complex rehab technology should have equal access to equipment, regardless of whether their wheelchairs are power or manual models.
“Regardless of injury, illness, disability or chronic conditions, all Medicare beneficiaries should be eligible for the same access to medically necessary mobility devices, services and accessories,” the letter said. “Anything less can have serious consequences for beneficiaries.”