Accessories relief fails to clear Senate

Stakeholders will build on progress they made in 2018, work with champions to develop plans for 2019
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Friday, January 4, 2019

WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders have moved on to Plan B to stop competitive bidding pricing for complex rehab manual wheelchairs.

In December, a bill was passed in the House of Representatives 400-11 to stop the cuts for 18 months, but amid a government shutdown later in the month, it stalled in the Senate.

“This shows you how complicated it is getting something passed,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART. “You never know what might pop up.”

H.R. 7217, a larger bill that focused on improvements to the Medicaid program, would also have created a permanent exemption from the bid program for complex rehab manual wheelchair bases.

In addition to the shutdown, there were “holds” on the bill in the Senate that, though unrelated to the complex rehab provisions, prevented it from moving forward under an expedited “unanimous consent” process.

Clayback says stakeholders will build on the progress they made in 2018 and work with champions like Reps. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., and John Larson, D-Conn., and Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, to develop plans for 2019.

There could be various options for reviving the complex rehab provisions earlier in the year, including introducing a standalone bill or re-introducing the Medicaid bill, Clayback says.

“I think it will all depend on the first couple of weeks of the new session and if they can get the spending (to re-open the government) fixed,” he said.

Bid pricing has been in effect for complex rehab manual wheelchairs since Jan. 1, 2016.

CMS, after pressure from Congress and industry and consumer advocacy groups, decided not to apply bid pricing to complex rehab power wheelchairs in late June of 2017, just prior to a July 1 implementation date.