Important development: Separate benefit for complex rehab


The steering committee working on a separate benefit for complex rehab released a new "proposal paper" yesterday. Below is the group's release. Go to to read the paper and see my previous blog for info on participating in teleconferences to review the paper and ask the committee questions.

Buffalo, New York – September 30, 2010 – Today the Separate Benefit Category Steering Committee released a document entitled “Proposal To Create A Separate Benefit Category For Complex Rehab Technology”. This Proposal is the follow-up to a March 2010 Discussion Paper and is designed to provide Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) stakeholders a report on the progress and details relating to obtaining a Separate Benefit Category under the Medicare program.

The Separate Benefit Category Steering Committee currently consists of representatives from six national organizations: the National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology (NCART), the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare); the National Registry of Rehab Technology Suppliers (NRRTS), the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA), the Clinician Task Force (CTF), and the United Spinal Association (United Spinal).

The Proposal contains a variety of information including updated recommended changes, a review of the activities to date, and other new material that has been developed relating to this initiative. The new material includes a draft CRT Stakeholders Bill of Rights and a CRT Service Delivery Matrix.

Gary Gilberti, NCART President, said “The issuance of the Proposal represents the culmination of six months of work since the Discussion Paper was issued in March. During that time there has been a great deal of discussion and outreach among consumers, clinicians, suppliers, and manufacturers. As a result we have been able to further develop the basis and details of Separate Benefit Category.  Of particular note is the endorsement of the ITEM Coalition and its consumer group members. The awareness of the importance and benefits of Complex Rehab Technology is increasing. That’s a very positive thing. Our work will be continuing and will build on the momentum we’ve gathered to date.”

The Separate Benefit Category initiative is in response to the significant challenges that threaten access to Complex Rehab Technology products and the supporting services used by individuals with significant disabilities and medical conditions. These individuals deal with physical, functional and cognitive challenges every day and utilize CRT to maximize their function and minimize the extent and costs of their medical care.  Threats to these products and services stem from coding, coverage, and payment problems.  These challenges have increased over the past several years and, without meaningful change to these policies, will only become greater in the future.

Complex Rehab Technology products and associated services include medically necessary, individually configured devices that require evaluation, configuration, fitting, adjustment or programming. These products and services are designed to meet the specific and unique medical, physical, and functional needs of an individual with a primary diagnosis resulting from a congenital disorder, progressive or degenerative neuromuscular disease, or from certain types of injury or trauma. CRT includes individually configured manual wheelchair systems, power wheelchair systems, adaptive seating systems, alternative positioning systems and other mobility devices.

Don Clayback, NCART Executive Director, stated “We are making real progress. It was recognized at the start that this was a significant undertaking. However the pressing need for better recognition at the federal and state levels of the individualized service delivery process relating to CRT and the benefits of CRT for people with disabilities makes this initiative a necessity. The Steering Committee is pleased with the expanded engagement and support of various CRT stakeholders along with the further development of the details in the Proposal. We will be continuing our outreach efforts and working with Congress and other policy makers as we move ahead to secure a Separate Benefit Category.”

The “Proposal To Create A Separate Benefit Category For Complex Rehab Technology” can be found and downloaded at the NCART website at under the Current Issues section.

Liz Beaulieu