Consumers make their presence known

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Friday, June 28, 2019

WASHINGTON – The United Spinal Association’s Roll on Capitol Hill, June 23-26, resulted in a record 250 visits with congressional offices, says Alexandra Bennewith.

“That’s the most we’ve ever done,” said Bennewith, vice president, government relations. “We had more than 100 advocates from more than 30 states, plus Puerto Rico. It was excellent.”

The annual advocacy event addresses the issues that impact the health, independence and quality of life of individuals living with spinal cord injuries and disorders, including disabled veterans.

Among the issues discussed during visits: stopping Medicare from applying competitive bidding pricing for accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs.

“We got a lot of good feedback,” Bennewith said. “They seemed to know about CRT and CB. I remember a time when we were doing a lot of education on that, but we’re beyond that now. The offices understand.”

But the issues discussed were also much broader, like autonomous vehicles.

“This is a new frontier and we have to be in on the ground floor,” Bennewith said. “We have to make sure we’re part of the dialogue on, for example, the design of these vehicles for wheelchair users. This can be a huge life changer for people with disabilities.”

Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products, attended the Roll on Capitol Hill. Quantum Rehab, a division of Pride, has been a sponsor of the event for several years.

“The consumer voice is very powerful and in some congressional offices it’s more powerful than the manufacturer or provider voice,” he said. “When you marry the consumer voice with the clinician voice, we’ve found it’s a good recipe for success.”