WASHINGTON, DC – CMS has announced that CRT manual wheelchair accessories will be permanently exempted from bidding-derived pricing. CMS’ action completes several years of advocacy to ensure that the full scope of CRT wheelchairs and accessories remain outside of the influence of the bidding program, strengthening patient access to these critically needed products on a long-term basis.
The protections for CRT accessories are part of several measures in the Fiscal Year 2022 Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Prospective Payment System Final Rule (CMS-1748-F), published July 29, 2021. An email CMS to Congressional healthcare staffers on the Rule summarizes the CRT provisions:
In addition, CMS is finalizing an exclusion from fee schedule adjustments based on information from the DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program (CBP) for wheelchair accessories (including seating systems) and seat and back cushions furnished in connection with group 3 or higher complex rehabilitative power wheelchairs. We are also extending this fee schedule adjustment exclusion to wheelchair accessories (including seating systems) and seat and back cushions furnished in connection with complex rehabilitative manual wheelchairs. Additionally, we are modifying the regulatory definition of “item” under the DMEPOS CBP at 42 CFR 414.402 to exclude complex rehabilitative manual wheelchairs and certain other manual wheelchairs and related accessories when furnished in connection with these wheelchairs from the DMEPOS CBP, as required by section 106(a) of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020.
As we had noted in June, CMS provided a 90-day extension for policy exempting manual CRT wheelchair accessories from competitive bidding-derived pricing. That extension came on the heels after bipartisan group of House and Senate members urged CMS to take action to continue the policy, which was set to expire on July 1.
This is a great win for CRT providers and patients alike. I want to thank advocacy leaders in the mobility community, and especially our partners at NCART, for keeping this issue front and center with legislators. These efforts, along with unwavering support from CRT champions including Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), were critical to protecting access to CRT going forward.
I’d also like to acknowledge the important support from patient advocacy groups, including the ITEM Coalition and United Spinal Association, for their passionate and sustained work on this issue. This was truly a team effort; that’s what it takes to really move the needle and succeed on major policy initiatives.
Tom Ryan is president and CEO of the American Association for Homecare. Ryan is pictured above at the 2021 Medtrade West at the Phoenix Convention Center.