Deadline is here for senate letter on accessories

Thursday, August 6, 2015

WASHINGTON – Today is the last day for senators to sign on to a letter asking CMS to continue paying for accessories for complex rehab wheelchairs at the fee schedule, not the competitive bidding, rate.

Sens. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., have taken the lead on the letter.

“Congress specifically excluded complex rehabilitative wheelchairs and related accessories from the Medicare DME competitive bidding program when it approved the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008,” they write. “It is our view that applying competitive bidding pricing to complex rehabilitative wheelchair accessories is inconsistent with the intent of MIPPA 2008 and contrary to CMS policies.”

Cochran and Schumer, like stakeholders, argue that the change in pricing could reduce access to complex rehab wheelchairs and accessories for a small population of Medicare beneficiaries with significant disabilities.

The change in pricing, scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, could mean a 20% to 50% reduction in reimbursement for accessories for complex rehab wheelchairs.

“We encourage CMS to issue written clarification that accessories used with complex rehabilitative wheelchairs will continue to be paid at Medicare established fee schedule amounts,” Cochran and Schumer write.

A similar letter has already circulated in the House of Representatives and attracted more than 100 signatures.

Additionally, Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., has introduced a bill that would provide a technical correction to prevent CMS from applying competitive bid pricing to accessories for complex rehab wheelchairs.