Worse-Than-Expected Cuts to Complex Wheelchair Accessories Set for January 1st
By Don Clayback, NCART
On November 23, 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) published the 2016 Medicare fee schedule. As feared, the new payment rates include major reductions (as high as 30% to 40% or more) to critical components used with Complex Rehab wheelchairs. But there is still time to act!
Complex Rehab wheelchairs and related accessories are used by a small population of people with high level disabilities such as ALS, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injury. Within the Medicare program these individuals represent a small (less than 10% of all Medicare beneficiaries who use wheelchairs) but very vulnerable group of people.
Medicare Ignoring Congressional Petitions
These cuts are being implemented by CMS, violating the intent of prior Congressional legislation (MIPPA 2008). They will dramatically reduce or outright eliminate access for people with disabilities who rely on individually configured Complex Rehab wheelchairs and critical components such as seating equipment, positioning systems and specialty controls.
In recent months, NCART and other organizations have been working alongside consumer groups and other advocates in conjunction with Congressional offices to communicate the issue to CMS and to request that the policy be rescinded to protect access. Unfortunately, CMS has refused all Congressional requests to retract the planned changes, as evidenced by the newly published fee schedule.
Last Chance to Stop Cuts and Add CRT Legislation
In order to protect access to this specialized equipment, Congressional legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate (H.R. 3229 and S. 2196). These bills will provide a legislative technical correction and will stop these payment cuts scheduled for January 1. Given the harmful consequences to Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities this legislation must be passed before year-end.
There is one last chance to get this legislation passed and enacted before year-end. We need to use the next 7 to 10 days to get Congress to add our Complex Rehab wheelchair accessory legislation, H.R.3229/S.2196, to a larger bill and pass it before they adjourn in mid-December.
Now is the time to contact or re-contact your Members. The message is simple: "I need you to attach H.R.3229/S.2196 to larger legislation and pass it before you adjourn in December."
We can make this happen if enough people make the time to contact Congress. Thank you for your continued dedication to protecting people with disabilities access to Complex Rehab Technology!
About the author:
Don Clayback is Executive Director of the National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology (NCART). NCART is national association of complex rehab technology (CRT) providers and manufacturers focused on ensuring individuals with disabilities have adequate access to specialized wheelchairs, seating and positioning systems, and other adaptive equipment such as standing devices and gait trainers. In this role, Don has responsibility for monitoring, analyzing, and influencing regulatory policies and legislation at both the federal and state level. He also serves as Chair of the CRT Separate Benefit Category Steering Committee. Don has 28 years of experience in the Complex Rehab Technology and Home Medical Equipment industry as a provider, consultant, and advocate. He is actively involved in industry issues and a frequent speaker at state and national conferences.Pre-Register for Abilities Expo Today...It's Free!