CMS stands firm on accessories

‘It was a surprise,’ says Don Clayback
Friday, June 19, 2015

WASHINGTON – CMS has responded to a letter from Congress asking the agency to reverse its decision to apply competitive bid pricing to accessories for complex rehab wheelchairs. The short answer is: “No.”

“It was a surprise,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART. “We were very encouraged that 101 members of Congress signed on in support of the request. We had a broad mix of Republicans and Democrats, and we also had representation from the key committees.”

In its response, CMS argues that applying the pricing to all accessories, regardless of the type of base of equipment used, avoids confusion. It also argues that the cost of accessories doesn’t vary significantly based on the type of base of equipment.

Now that CMS has made it clear it won’t budge, stakeholders are circling back to the key authors of the letter to pursue a legislative fix.

“We’re working with the three committees of jurisdiction (the House Energy & Commerce and Ways & Means committees, and the Senate Finance Committee) to get what we’re characterizing as a technical correction to make sure that the payment is not reduced for complex rehab accessories,” said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare.

The amendment, which would amount to little more than a paragraph, could be attached to the 21st Century Cures Act, but stakeholders say they’ll take anything that’s moving.

“We don’t care what the vehicle looks like as long as Congress is good with it,” said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility. “We just need to get it resolved.” 

Industry leaders have a long list of initiatives they’d like to see passed into law, but as priorities go, maintaining the current payment policy for accessories for complex rehab wheelchairs rates high on their “to do” list.

“We probably have two No. 1 priorities,” said Bachenheimer. “The 2016 application of competitive bid rates nationwide and this.”