Accessories bill back in play

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Friday, April 19, 2019

WASHINGTON – A bill that would suspend competitive bidding pricing for accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs for 18 months is back on the books in the House of Representatives.

Reps. John Larson, D-Conn., and Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., introduced H.R. 2293, which would also permanently exempt complex rehab manual wheelchairs from the bid program, on April 12, supported by 21 of their colleagues.

“Because a bill has been introduced earlier in the year and because a similar bill passed by voice vote last year, we are confident we can get it through the House,” said Seth Johnson, senior vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products. “Then that gives the Senate more time to do what it needs to do to get it passed there, too.”

Late last year, H.R. 7217, a larger bill that included accessories language, stalled in the Senate at the 11th hour. The bill passed in the House 400-11.

The strategy for H.R. 2293 is the same as for previous versions of the bill: First exempt complex rehab manual wheelchairs from the bid program; then use the 18-month reprieve to go back to CMS for a permanent policy change for accessories.

“Once we’ve established that complex rehab manual wheelchairs are exempt from the bid program, it makes for an easier and stronger argument for accessories,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART.

Stakeholders believe the House will pass H.R. 2293,either as a standalone bill or as part of a larger bill, in the “short term.”

“It’s a small and focused bill, and it has been fully vetted,” Clayback said.

Stakeholders also expect to have a similar bill introduced in the Senate in time for the complex rehab industry’s annual lobbying day on May 2.

“We’re expecting that on April 30,” Johnson said.