NCART contracts lobbyist

Sunday, August 27, 2006

WASHINGTON - NCART has contracted a well-seasoned Washington, D.C., lobbyist with healthcare experience to prevent the association's initiatives from "getting lost in the shuffle."

NCART brought Denise Henry onboard this month. Henry, head of the lobbying firm Strategic Health Solutions, has represented the pharmaceutical and O&P industries on the Hill.

"The HME manufacturers' lobbyists were doing a good job, but they have a broader view--they do respiratory," said Simon Margolis, an NCART executive board member. "We needed someone laser-focused on rehab, so we don't get lost in the shuffle."

Mainly, NCART wants Henry to focus her attention on gaining traction for the association's rehab carve-out bill. The bill, H.R. 4994, would exempt complex rehab from national competitive bidding, which CMS plans to kick off next year. (Industry sources don't expect, however, that complex rehab will be a product category that CMS includes in the first round of NCB.)

Henry has already played a role in getting custom orthotics exempted from NCB, Margolis said.

Other issues on Henry's plate: lobbying legislators to help the industry make changes to the new codes and coverage criteria for power mobility devices.

"The initial impetus (for contracting) a lobbyist was the rehab carve-out, but with the new codes, pricing and the local coverage determination--we just needed an expert," said Sharon Hildebrandt, NCART's executive director.