WASHINGTON, DC – Late this past Friday the President signed into law H.R. 1865, one of the year-end spending bills passed in the House and Senate last week. The signing is important for complex rehab technology (CRT) because it includes permanent protections for complex rehab manual wheelchairs and components (accessories). It’s a great win for people with disabilities who depend on these specialized CRT products and a credit to the collective advocacy work of the CRT Community over the past two years.
The CRT provisions will permanently exempt complex rehab manual wheelchairs and accessories from the Medicare Competitive Bidding Program. Additionally, there is an 18-month suspension in the current inappropriate application of competitive bidding payment rates to complex rehab manual wheelchair accessories. The suspension is effective Jan. 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, which will allow for further discussions to achieve a permanent resolution.
It’s important to thank our Congressional supporters. Our sincere thanks to our CRT champions Representatives John Larson (D-CT) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) for their leadership and hard work. We’re also grateful to Energy & Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR), Ways & Means Committee Chair Richie Neal (D-MA) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX), and Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR).
This shows when the CRT community comes together around a common goal, things can get done. Recognition and thanks to the members of ITEM Coalition, United Spinal Association, NCIL, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Spina Bifida Association, Clinician Task Force, RESNA, Abilities Expo, APTA, AOTA, and all the other consumer, disability, and medical professional organizations who invested their time in educating and advocating. Thanks also to our NCART members and to our industry partners AAHomecare, NRRTS, US Rehab, and the state associations for their significant contributions.
As we all know, advocacy work can be a long and challenging road. It’s important to take a minute and appreciate progress, especially at this time of year. We wish everyone happy holidays and look forward to continuing to advocate together in 2020 to protect CRT access for people with disabilities.
Don Clayback is executive director of the National Coalition For Assistive & Rehab Technology, East Amherst, New York.