WATERLOO, IA – Reps. John Larson (D-CT) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY) have spearheaded a congressional sign-on letter to CMS urging that the agency use its administrative authority to permanently exclude complex rehab technology (CRT) manual accessories from Competitive Bidding Program (CBP) pricing. This request would require CMS to use the same payment policies for accessories on manual chairs as it does for power chairs. To ask your members of Congress to sign onto this letter, click here.
As you may recall, CMS already exempted CRT power accessories in 2017, and Congress provided an 18-month statutory delay of the application of CBP pricing for CRT manual accessories last December, which is set to expire July 1, 2021. It is important for Congress to weigh in with CMS to make the exemption permanent to provide equal access to both CRT manual and power wheelchairs and accessories for Medicare beneficiaries.
This would establish a consistent policy across the fee schedule for all wheelchair accessories and back and seat cushions used in conjunction with complex rehabilitative wheelchairs so that they are based on the unadjusted fee schedule amounts updated by the covered item update specified in section 1834(a)(14) of the Act. This will ensure Medicare beneficiaries with significant disabilities who require complex manual wheelchairs have the same access as those who use complex power wheelchairs.
“We have seen in the past how consistent effort and advocacy can lead to great changes throughout the CRT industry,” said Greg Packer, president of U.S. Rehab, a division of VGM & Associates. “This is a great opportunity for the CRT industry to improve and ultimately benefit those who use this equipment. The key to this is that we move this forward with a long-term solution, not just a one-year delay like we currently have. I highly encourage everyone to take action today.”
Complex wheelchairs and accessories are used by people with significant disabilities including spinal cord injury, ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, and other serious conditions. These individually configured mobility and seating systems allow this small group of beneficiaries, representing just 7% of all Medicare manual wheelchair users, to manage their medical needs and fully participate in their lives. Without complex wheelchairs, many would be bed confined. Of note, these complex wheelchairs have taken on even more importance in helping people with disabilities manage the challenges and risks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are currently four other supporters signed on to this letter.
- Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)
- Dan Meuser (R-PA)
- A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD)
- Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA)
The deadline to sign this letter is August 31st, but it is important to act now as the end of the month will be here soon. Please reach out to your members of Congress and ask that they show their support by adding their name to the letter. You can easily reach out to your member of Congress by clicking here.
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John Gallagher is vice president of Government Relations for VGM & Associates, Waterloo, Iowa.