Complex rehab: Industry seeks third-party input

Sunday, August 9, 2009

WASHINGTON - NCART has contracted with Avalere Health, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm focused on healthcare business strategy and public policy, to study creating a separate benefit for complex power wheelchairs.

"They're going to help us identify our options, whether they're regulatory, legislative or a combination," said Don Clayback, NCART's executive director. "That way, we'll be better able to see whether a particular avenue seems preferable."

NCART expects Avalere to complete the study in September. Avalere has already studied other segments of the HME industry, including home oxygen therapy.

Various stakeholders, including AAHomecare's Complex Rehab and Mobility Council (CRMC), NRRTS and RESNA, will review the study. They expect to meet in late September to determine their next move. Other stakeholders like consumer advocacy groups may also become part of the conversation at a later date.

"It's extremely important that we project a vision of a unified industry," said Tim Pederson, chairman of the CRMC and CEO of WestMed Rehab in Rapid City, S.D.

(Stakeholders want to avoid at all costs the deepening division that has weakened efforts to reform the oxygen benefit. Some industry and consumer groups have come out against AAHomecare's plan, now a bill in the House of Representatives.)

The study and related presentations and meetings will cost anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000, Clayback said. NRRTS has pledged $15,000 to NCART for the effort.

"We're behind NCART 100%," said Simon Margolis, NRRTS's executive director. "We're letting them take the lead on this, because if everyone was leading the way, no one would know which way to go."

CRMC will match NCART's financial contribution, Pederson said.