One last signature needed

 - 
Thursday, July 25, 2019

In today’s world, navigating the insurance industry can be difficult. It can be especially hard for those with complex disabilities. This group of people depends on complex rehab technology (CRT) to live an independent life. CRT is used by people with complex medical needs and includes equipment like individually configured wheelchairs, custom seating systems, adaptive bathing equipment and gait trainers.

Currently, Medicaid does not have concrete guidelines to protect CRT in New York State. There is no guarantee that individuals with complex disabilities will have appropriate access to the items and services that they require. The Governor has a chance to do what is needed by signing the A7492/S5741 bill into law to preserve the independence, improve the quality of life, and reduce the health care costs of New Yorkers across the state who depend on it.

I am the owner of Monroe Wheelchair, a complex rehab technology supplier based out of Rochester with branches in Albany and Syracuse. I’ve been in this business for 40 years and am proud to say we have grown to a company of 92 employees providing equipment and supporting services to more than 15,000 people with disabilities across the state. A large portion of what our company provides is CRT.

The process to provide CRT is meticulous and labor intensive. A specially trained and credentialled assistive technology professional (ATP), is needed to work with each of our CRT customers. Their role is to ensure that medically appropriate equipment is built from the ground up to support each individual’s unique physical and functional needs.

The process begins with collecting medical documentation to be reviewed to determine necessity, and all functional mobility evaluations must be conducted by clinicians. Demo equipment must be tested, authorizations obtained, and each component must be coded, ordered, pieced together, delivered and billed correctly. The entire process can take anywhere from 60-120 days and is a far cry from providing standard durable medical equipment where someone could walk into the store with a prescription from their doctor and leave 30 minutes later with their new equipment.

Insurance coverage for CRT has changed over the years, making it increasingly challenging to continue offering this service to our community. Reduced reimbursements, budget cuts, changes in policy or coverage, and archaic coding systems are additional hurdles that threaten how and what my company is able to provide, while still offering excellent service and keeping our doors open.

I want to see this specialized equipment protected and defended because I understand its importance. This bill has been passed by the New York State Legislature and it would protect individuals with complex needs without adding additional cost to the state or its taxpayers. All that is needed now is the signature of the governor.  To me, my employees, the clinicians we work with, and the people with disabilities that we serve, signing this bill into law is a no-brainer. Our collective hope is that Gov. Cuomo feels the same way.

You can help us fight for this needed bill. Tell Gov, Cuomo why it matters to you by visiting www.protectCRT.org.

—Doug Westerdahl is the president and CEO of Monroe Wheelchair in Rochester, N.Y.