Nat’l CRT Week keeps conversation going

‘Staffers took notes furiously’
Friday, August 23, 2013

WASHINGTON – Congressional visits during National CRT Week were “a real eye opener” for lawmakers, industry stakeholders say.

At this point, many lawmakers have heard about the bills in the House of Representatives and the Senate to create a separate benefit for complex rehab, but seeing equipment in person really helped seal the deal, says Don Clayback.

“We’re making good progress,” said Clayback, executive director of NCART. “Many of these visits were for follow-up, and they’re now in a position to sign on.”

Stakeholders set aside Aug. 19-23 as National CRT Week to encourage providers, manufacturers and consumers to lobby lawmakers to support H.R. 942 (65 co-sponsors) and S. 948 (three co-sponsors). 

To that end, Sheridan, Colo.-based Aspen Seating gave the staffers of Rep. Diana Degette, D-Colo., and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., a facility tour and brought them together with consumers and another provider who had to sell his business. The goal: to show all aspects of complex rehab as it stands without the protection of a separate benefit. 

“The staffers took notes furiously,” said Colleen Wolstenholm, vice president. “The clients told them, ‘We need you to be our voice.’”

The visits were also a way to encourage lawmakers to continue supporting the industry’s efforts, says Doug Westerdahl, owner of Rochester, N.Y.-based Monroe Wheelchair, who hosted Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., a co-sponsor of H.R. 942.

“We gave her a tour of our facility and a plaque of appreciation for her support of Monroe Wheelchair and complex rehab technology,” he said. “She’s used mobility equipment and knows on a firsthand basis the importance of this equipment and the importance of access.”

While stakeholders won’t know the true impact of National CRT Week until lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., in September, they believe the event helped to move the bills forward.

“Once Congress is back in session, we’ll see proof of everyone’s hard work,” he said. “We’ll definitely be adding some co-sponsors.”