Bill clears way for standards for adaptive equipment

‘At the end of the day, (the bill) is a positive,’ says Harmar’s Drew McCartney
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Friday, December 2, 2016

WASHINGTON – Now that a bill requiring Veterans Affairs to establish quality and safety standards for adaptive equipment and vehicles has finally been passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, the real work begins, say those involved.

“The VA has up to one year to start action on it,” said Dave Hubbard, CEO and executive director of the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association, which was largely responsible for early drafts of the Veterans Mobility Safety Act. “They’re a big entity that’s hard to move, but we have good relations with them and our next goal is to get them to start the rule-making process.”

In addition to establishing quality and safety standards, the bill calls on the VA to develop a certification process for providers using manufacturers or third-party, nonprofit organizations; to train the personnel administering its Automobile Adaptive Equipment program; and to allow veterans to receive modifications at their homes.

At times leading up to the bill passing, a coalition of providers and manufacturers led by Harmar and NMEDA were at odds over the specifics of the bill. Amendments to the bill recently introduced by Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., that helped to further ensure home installations and deliveries would be allowed and a fair certification process would be developed have gone a long way toward resolving any differences.

“It was a lot of hard work, but we got everything we wanted and a bill got passed,” said Drew McCartney, CEO of Harmar, a large manufacturer of auto lifts. “At the end of the day, it is a positive.”

Hubbard agreed that the ultimate outcome is positive.

“We don’t have a problem with the bill that got passed or the way it got re-worded,” he said.

Though much of the details of what the standards and certification program will look like are now in the hands of the VA, Hubbard says NMEDA’s more than 600 members, which are required to participate in a Quality Assurance Program, likely won’t have a hard time passing muster.

“I don’t know that it will pose a hardship on any of our members,” he said. “Those that will have a problem are those that aren’t doing the job the right way—that’s who this will pose a hardship on.”