Campaign for rehab bills continues

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

WASHINGTON - Although its focus remains CMS's new policies for power mobility devices, the rehab industry also plans to spend the next two months collecting sponsors for three bills.
The newest: A bill in the House of Representatives that, like a bill already introduced in the Senate, would eliminate the in-the-home restriction. Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, introduced H.R. 5983 just before legislators left Washington, D.C, for their August recess. At press time in early October, it had seven co-sponsors. The Senate bill, S. 3677, had 11 co-sponsors.
Because the new coverage criteria for power mobility devices appears to strengthen the in-the-home restriction, it's even more important to make headway with the two bills, said Emily Niederman, spokeswoman for the ITEM Coalition, a consumer advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.
"It's the only way to stop the requirement from becoming more and more restrictive," she said. "(In-the-home) appears to be at the root of all the problems."
If the two bills don't get attached to another bill in this legislative session, which is likely to end some time in December, the ITEM Coalition will seek to have the bills re-introduced next year, Niederman said.
In addition to the in-the-home bills, the industry plans to collect co-sponsors for H.R. 4994, a bill that would exempt complex rehab products from national competitive bidding. Although NCB kicks off next year, the industry doesn't expect CMS to include rehab in the first round of its program. That gives the industry a little time to play with, sources said.
At press time, the rehab carve-out bill had seven co-sponsors.
While the industry continues its campaign to end the in-the-home restriction and carve out rehab from NCB, at the moment, it has bigger fish to fry, sources said.
"There won't be rehab to exempt if the new pricing for power mobility devices goes into effect," said Sharon Hildebrandt, executive director of NCART.