Coalition steps out of limelight

Monday, April 30, 2007

WASHINGTON - The Restore Access to Mobility Partnership (RAMP) has been quiet on the lobbying front for a good reason: The coalition of providers and manufacturers of power mobility devices quietly folded itself into AAHomecare's Rehab and Assistive Technology Committee (RATC) earlier this year.
RAMP has been a visible voice for the industry ever since CMS began rewriting the playbook for PMDs in 2005.
"Now that the changes are largely in place, we just decided we didn't need that type of detailed focus anymore," said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products and chairman of RATC. "There's always been this desire to bring the entire industry back under one umbrella."
In addition to RAMP and RATC, NCART also lobbies on the industry's behalf, though more for providers of complex rehab.
For the past few years, RAMP has served largely as a public relations machine, members say. It has pumped out press release after press release, challenging CMS's every move, whether it was eliminating CMNs for PMDs or cutting reimbursement.
In some instances, RAMP went above and beyond by analyzing data, members say. For example, late last year, the coalition argued that, contrary to popular belief, the number of Medicare claims for power wheelchairs has declined significantly since 2003, the year it peaked.
On an as-needed basis, RAMP "will be put back out there to focus on putting a positive spin on the face of mobility," Johnson said.
While some sources agree there's no longer "a great battle to fight," the move to fold RAMP into RATC could have had more to do with penny pinching, they said.
Tim Pedersen, vice chairman of RATC, didn't necessarily disagree.
"We need to focus government relations money on where the greatest need is at the time," said Pedersen, CEO of WestMed Rehab in Rapid City, S.D.