NCART stages carve out call-in

Sunday, December 2, 2007

WASHINGTON - The rehab industry on Tuesday, National Rehab Exemption Day, plans to turn up the heat on Congress to carve out complex rehab from national competitive bidding.

Just after 11 a.m., NCART urges all rehab providers and manufacturers to make four phone calls: one to their U.S. representative; two to their U.S. senators; and one to a consumer or clinician.

"We want them to encourage consumers and clinicians to then make more calls," said Sharon Hildebrandt, NCART's executive director. "We're hoping for a snowball effect."

The rehab industry's carve-out bill, H.R. 2231, has 25 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. There's no Senate bill.

NCART will hold a 15-minute teleconference at 11 a.m. to prep callers. It wants them to ask representatives to sign on to H.R. 2231 and senators to ask Finance Committee leaders to include the carve out as part of its Medicare package.

Legislators return to the Capitol today, and word has it Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Finance Committee, wants to have a Medicare mark-up on Wednesday, industry sources said.

NRRTS Executive Director Simon Margolis hopes the call-in is as successful as The VGM Group's Nov. 14 "Shut Down the Switchboard" day, which resulted in about 8,100 calls.

"The idea is to try and ride (the coattails) of some of their success," he said. "In the past, we've tried scare tactics: 'Do this or your world will end.' That's getting old. Now, we're saying, 'Here's a success story. If they can succeed, so can we.' It never ceases to surprise me--that the industry doesn't participate in greater numbers."

To help spread the word about the call-in, NRRTS e-mail blasted its 800 registrants and 200 friends of NRRTS last week.