Complex rehab conference highlights consumers

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Friday, January 19, 2018

WASHINGTON – This year’s National CRT Leadership & Advocacy Conference, hosted by NCART and NRRTS, will put consumers front and center like never before.

The educational program for the event, April 25-26 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va., will include a new panel session with consumers.

“It will be part their personal stories, part their experiences doing advocacy work and part their take on what manufacturers and providers can do to better engage them,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART.

The panel of consumers will kick things off on the morning of April 25, followed by a panel of policymakers and lobbyists on the temperature in Congress; a panel of stakeholders on industry related updates; and an orientation for the next day’s visits to Capitol Hill.

Per tradition, about two-dozen consumers will participate in those visits to the Hill.

“That’s one of the best things this event does,” said Weesie Walker, executive director of NRRTS. “Having a consumer there just brings more awareness to our issues, not only for the legislators and their staff, but also for the consumers themselves. One year, I went on visits with a mom and her little girl, and after two visits, she told me, ‘I had no idea the process it takes to get my daughter’s equipment.’ I wanted to cry.”

While the conference has always drawn a core group of consumers, organizers are also trying to recruit new consumers, especially from states like Indiana, where legislators haven’t signed on yet to support efforts like stopping competitive bidding-related cuts for accessories for complex manual wheelchairs and creating a separate benefit for complex rehab.

“There are also states where the consumer has done a really good job educating legislators about our issues and getting their support, and we want to maintain that level of support,” Walker said.