All eyes on House bill for manual accessories

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

WASHINGTON – With the clock ticking on 2017, stakeholders have zeroed in on increasing the number of co-sponsors for a bill in the House of Representatives that would protect accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs.

At press time, H.R. 3730, which would exempt these accessories from competitive bidding pricing, had 49 co-sponsors.

“We’re staying in regular contact with our champions and what they’ve told us is, stay focused on building the level of support for the bill,” said Seth Johnson, senior vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products. “It’d be great to get the number of co-sponsors to 75-80.”

A previous bill that would have exempted accessories for both complex rehab power and manual wheelchairs from bid pricing had more than 100 co-sponsors.

Stakeholders had also been working on getting a companion bill introduced in the Senate, but while they still have support there from Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, they’re running out of time.

“When the House passes the bill and it comes over to the Senate, (Casey and Portman) will look to move it through the process,” Johnson said. “They’re supportive, but they’re also wrapped up in other healthcare-related issues.”

With all eyes now on the House bill, stakeholders are working to increase the number of co-sponsors, while their champions navigate possible legislative vehicles or stand-alone opportunities in a chaotic Congress.

“It’s a two-edged sword,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART. “On the one hand, this is an issue that is known in Congress and that they have been working on for three years; on the other hand, it’s a small issue amid many other bigger issues.”

But stakeholders and their champions have pulled off last-minute successes before, in December of 2015 and 2016, when they were able to delay CMS’s plans to apply bid pricing to accessories. CMS then dropped plans to apply the pricing for complex rehab power wheelchairs in June, but not for complex rehab manual wheelchairs.

“We’re just asking Congress to complete the circle,” Clayback said.