With a new administration in Washington, D.C., and the country emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) industry is working to move several crucial policies forward.
NCART Executive Director Don Clayback and Associate Director Mickae Lee returned to the Mobility Management podcast to update CRT stakeholders on key issues for the second quarter of 2021.
That includes addressing Medicare funding for CRT manual wheelchair accessories. The current suspension of competitive bidding-derived pricing for those manual wheelchair components expires on June 30.
“This issue really is our number-one priority because of the urgency,” Clayback noted. “We did get an 18-month suspension of Medicare applying competitive bidding rates to complex rehab manual wheelchair accessories, and the plan was that 18 months would give us time to work through a permanent change with CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services], just like CMS did back in 2017 for power wheelchair accessories.
“Unfortunately, as we all know, last year was COVID-19 focused. Although we did have some conversations with CMS, they were certainly tied up with those varieties of issues, and as we moved into this year with the elections, we had new leadership at HHS [Department of Health & Human Services] and CMS.”
Clayback added that NCART is focused on “generating conversations around the urgency and the need for some action to be taken prior to the July 1 deadline. Time is ticking, we’re aware of that.”
Lee said NCART is also tracking a pair of House bills seeking to retain telehealth options after the pandemic is over. “The good thing about this particular bill and why it’s especially important,” Lee said of H.R. 2168, “is that it not only contains provisions that do expand access to telehealth services as they were throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but it adds physical and occupational therapists as permanently authorized telehealth practitioners, which is exactly what we’re hoping to do for Complex Rehab.”
The broader CONNECT for Health Act of 2021, Lee pointed out, does not specify the inclusion of occupational and physical therapists.
Clayback and Lee also addressed movement on the effort to secure Medicare coverage for power standing and seat elevation on CRT power wheelchairs.