NCART 'steps up' its game

Sunday, June 21, 2009

WASHINGTON – A familiar face will take the reins at the National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology (NCART) next month.

The MED Group’s Don Clayback, who has been involved with NCART since its inception in 2004, will become its executive director July 15, the coalition announced yesterday. He will replace Sharon Hildebrandt.

“Sharon has a strong legislative and regulatory background, but we feel strongly that we need someone with industry experience,” said Gary Gilberti, president of NCART and CEO of Chesapeake Rehab Equipment. “Don has the experience of being a provider and of working with manufacturers through The MED Group. He has the overall knowledge we need. We think this will step up NCART’s game a little bit.”

Clayback, who has served on both NCART’s executive committee and its board of directors, has more than 22 years of industry experience. For the past six years, he has served as vice president of government relations for The MED Group. Before that, he was an industry consultant and a vice president at two HME/rehab companies.

Bringing Clayback on board is the first of a three-pronged approach to increase NCART’s profile, Gilberti said. The other two: adding administrative support and contracting with a lobbying firm, he said.

“We have some major projects on the table,” Gilberti said.

Those projects include creating a separate benefit for complex rehab, repealing a 9.5% reimbursement cut and revising the new billing policy for wheelchair repairs.

As executive director of NCART, Clayback hopes to work on these projects with increased participation from advocacy groups like the ALS Association and consumers, he said.

“We’ve been making inroads in that area, but I think it’s something we need to put more time and energy into,” Clayback said. “We need to develop these relationships on a deeper level, so we can work hand-in-hand. Because on a surface level, our issues seem like provider issues, but they’re really access issues that will affect consumers.”

Clayback also hopes to improve NCART’s communication efforts—both internally to its members and externally to the industry at large—through increased e-mails and teleconferences. Additionally, he plans to update the coalition’s Web site to make it more informative for members, policymakers and consumers.

Hildebrandt, who has been the executive director of NCART for five years, has helped to put the coalition and complex rehab on the map on Capitol Hill, Gilberti said.