NCART lobbies for carve out

Thursday, May 31, 2007

WASHINGTON - NCART is in a race against time. The coalition must get a bill exempting complex rehab introduced and passed by year's end, say industry sources.
NCART suceeded in getting a bi-partisan bill introduced by Reps. Tom Allen, D-Maine, and Ron Lewis, R-Ky., May 9. It hosted a congressional fly-in May 9-10 in Washington, D.C., to lobby legislators to co-sign the bill. More than 80 NCART members participated in the fly-in (compared to about 50 last year); they held more than 130 meetings (compared to about 100 last year).
"I just hope people aren't too shell shocked," said Sharon Hildebrandt, NCART's executive director. "This is their chance before the bids are released."
CMS plans to select winning providers in December.
In lobbying legislators to support the bill, NCART members plan to make several arguments. First, that complex rehab products meet unique needs, making them inappropriate for competitive bidding. Second, CMS has already tightened documentation requirements and reduced pricing for complex rehab products.
"If the goal of competitive bidding is to improve quality and reduce costs--CMS did that last year," said Don Clayback, NCART's secretary/treasurer.
Providers like Mike Seidel also plan to host site visits. They've asked consumers and disability organizations to contact representatives, too.
"I'm trying to lobby in my own little world," said Seidel, an office manager for National Seating & Mobility and NRRTS's president.
NRRTS Executive Director Simon Margolis called the rehab carve-out bill a "crap shoot," but providers have no other option, he said.
"If we don't (get the bill passed), we're going to find our worst nightmare sitting next to us at the rehab clinic.'"
NCART collected seven co-sponsors for last year's rehab carve-out bill.