Complex rehab stakeholders petition the president

Friday, October 2, 2015

WASHINGTON – Industry stakeholders have launched a petition asking the White House to stop CMS from applying competitive bid pricing to complex rehab wheelchair accessories.

The move complements ongoing efforts to reverse CMS’s decision, which stakeholders say, could result in payment cuts ranging from 20% to 50%.

“This is part of the overall campaign,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART. “We had letters that went out from Congress, we had legislation introduced that we’re building support for, and now we have a petition that will go directly to the president’s office, so all of those things are working in concert.”

H.R. 3229, which would provide a technical correction to clarify that CMS can’t make the change, currently has 22 co-sponsors.

However, given Congress’ track record for passing timely legislation, some feel the petition is the industry’s best chance.

“We would love to have this solved by the president, versus trying to get something through Congress,” said Greg Packer, president of U.S. Rehab, a division of The VGM Group. “With (Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaker of the House of Representatives) resigning and our political process being what it is, I’m not sure we can get anything solved in the Capitol.”

At press time, the petition had more than 7,700 signatures. To garner the requisite 100,000 signatures it takes to prompt a response from the White House, stakeholders, including VGM, Permobil, Roho, NCART and NRRTS, are pumping their email lists and social media platforms for action. Should the petition reach that threshold by Oct. 25, the White House would have up to 60 days to issue a response—approximately a week and a half before the changes take effect on Jan. 1. 

“The response could be, ‘We understand and we’re going to fix this,’ or it could be ‘You already got a response from CMS,’” said Clayback. “We don’t know what the response will be.”

While the petition is not meant to replace existing outreach efforts, Weesie Walker says it does offer people an additional avenue to voice their concerns. 

“We still need people to contact their legislators about H.R. 3229,” said Walker, NRRTS executive director. “But that’s a little more involved, and if you’re not familiar with what the issue is, most people are not willing to take that on, but signing a petition is quick and easy and it can create the attention that this issue desperately needs to prevent access issues in January.”