NCART postpones fly-in

Sunday, January 22, 2006

WASHINGTON - With an eye toward better arming its members for the lobbying fight ahead, the National Coalition for Assistive Rehab Technology (NCART) has postponed its February congressional fly-in.

The association's members planned to storm the Capitol Feb. 6 and 7 to petition legislators to exclude high-end rehab and assistive technology from national competitive bidding, scheduled to kick off in 2007. But because a bill intended to do that has yet to be introduced, the group decided to reschedule the fly-in for this spring.

"We were unsure whether legislation would be introduced in time for the fly-in," said Sharon Hildebrandt, NCART's executive director. "Since the purpose of the fly-in is getting co-sponsors for the legislation, the timing was off."

The association has a representative lined up to introduce the "carve-out" legislation shortly after the House reconvenes later this month. Hildebrandt declined to name the representative.

The need for the "carve out," according to NCART, stems from the customized nature of high-end rehab. Because the equipment addresses the unique needs of individual patients, it can't be competitively bid, the association argues.

NCART also postponed its fly-in because the industry is still waiting for Medicare to publish details on its NCB program. If the agency makes an announcement later this month or early February, as expected, members may need to petition legislators about that, as well, said Don Clayback, NCART's secretary/treasurer.

Finally, President Bush's FY 2007 budget, which will likely focus on health care, could also affect what NCART members discuss with legislators during the fly-in.