Complex rehab update: Go-time for accessories

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Friday, November 2, 2018

WASHINGTON – NCART will stage a congressional call-in on Nov. 14 to advance a bill that would stop CMS from applying competitive bidding-related cuts to accessories for complex manual wheelchairs.

The clock is ticking: Stakeholders would like to see H.R. 3730 and S. 486 passed as part of a larger bill before the end of this year.

“We feel like we can get this done,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART. “It’s a small bill; it’s a specific issue.”

CMS stopped applying the cuts to accessories for complex power wheelchairs on July 1, 2017, following pressure from stakeholders and Congress, but not for complex manual wheelchairs.

Stakeholders have been in regular communication with the House bill’s sponsors, Reps. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., and John Larson, D-Conn., but until after the elections, the hands of lawmakers are tied.

“The path forward will, in some ways, be dictated by how the elections go,” Clayback said.

The good news: Congress will likely take up at least one large bill before they close up shop for the year, making the timing of the call-in perfect.

“It’s a simple message: Congress needs to complete the circle,” Clayback said. “It’s an issue they’ve recognized—and for power, have resolved. Now it’s time for manual.”

Like Clayback, Seth Johnson likes the industry’s chances of getting H.R. 3730 across the finish line, in large part because its 119 co-sponsors are “pretty evenly divided” among Republicans and Democrats.

“The normal criteria for getting included in any year-end package is, it doesn’t cost too much money and it’s bi-partisan,” said Johnson, senior vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products. “We’re in a good position from both of those perspectives.”

But if stakeholders don’t succeed, NCART will make the issue a top priority again in 2019.

“The question from a strategy and mechanics perspective is, do we keep it a standalone bill, or do we make it part of a separate benefit bill so there is just one bill,” Clayback said. “That will really depend on the advice and direction of (Zeldin and Larson).”