CRT conference: All advocacy, all the time

Organizers also hope to have bills introduced in time for event
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Friday, March 8, 2019

ARLINGTON, Va. – Organizers of the National CRT Leadership & Advocacy Conference are mixing up this year’s educational lineup to better equip attendees to advocate at the event—and beyond.

The lineup for the conference, hosted by NCART and NRRTS May 1-2 at the Renaissance Arlington Capitol View Hotel, includes Ty Bello, who will provide “bootcamp lessons” on advocacy; and Cathy Carver, the executive director of The Clinician Task Force, and Gerry Dickerson, president-elect of NRRTS, who will discuss the importance of following up on Hill visits.

“We’re really going to address grassroots advocacy because it is so vital to any effort we have on Capitol Hill,” said Weesie Walker, executive director of NRRTS. “We also really want to emphasize that you have to do it when you get home, too.”

The lineup will also include health policy experts Peter Thomas and Henry Claypool to discuss the climate in which stakeholders are advocating on the Hill; and consumer advocate Gabe Adams, who was born without limbs and who goes by the motto “No limbs. Just a smile for miles.”

New to the conference this year is a session that will address a growing concern on the advocacy front: managed care organizations, which have systematically been reducing reimbursement and shrinking provider networks in states across the country. Marge Gustas and Joe Clark of the Buffalo, N.Y., office of Neighborhood Legal Services, which provides free legal services to persons with low income and those with disabilities, will present “Holding Medicaid HMOs Accountable.”

“We're basically looking to bring legal expertise to the discussions and concerns around the rise of MCOs,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART.

Stakeholders to have CRT bills ready

WASHINGTON – Stakeholders plan to have a bill providing relief for accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs and a bill creating a separate benefit for complex rehab introduced in time for conference.

Likely to be introduced first: a bill to stop CMS from applying competitive bidding related pricing to accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs.

“We’re working with Reps. John Larson, D-Conn., and Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., on that,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART.

A bill that would have stopped CMS from applying the pricing for 18 months, starting Jan. 1, 2019, passed the House of Representatives late last year but stalled in the Senate early this year.

Stakeholders also expect to have a bill creating a separate benefit for complex rehab introduced in time for the conference, but they have more work to do there, in lockstep with champion Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who has expressed interest in taking the lead, and a D.C. law firm.

“We’re in the processing of updating the language to take into account the current environment and streamlining it,” Clayback said.

Stakeholders have a version of the bill back from the law firm and are reviewing it. Once everyone, including their champions, have signed off on it, they’ll turn it over to the House Office of the Legislative Counsel to draft a bill.

“We’ve had conversations with Democrats in the House, too, to be co-leads and we keep hearing they’re interested and are supportive, but they need to see and review language,” said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products.