NCART steps up push for carve out

Sunday, September 30, 2007

WASHINGTON - NCART planned to give 15 to 20 consumers of complex rehab equipment center stage at a press event scheduled for Sept. 25 on Capitol Hill to help "raise the visibility" of its carve-out bill.
"We need to let members of Congress know that this is a critical piece of legislation that needs to be passed this year," said Sharon Hildebrandt, executive director of NCART. "This will allow them to see, with their own eyes, how important this equipment is to the people who use it."
The carve-out bill, H.R. 2231, seeks to exclude complex rehab from national competitive bidding. In early September, the bill, sponsored by Rep. Tom Allen, D-Maine, had 18 co-sponsors.
NCART hoped to have a similar bill introduced in the Senate by the end of September. With bills in both the House of Representatives and Senate, sponsors could seek to attach it to a larger bill.
CMS plans to kick off competitive bidding July 1, 2008.
One week before the event, NCART planned to send out invitations to members of Congress, including those sitting on the powerful Senate Energy and Commerce and House Ways and Means committees, and members of the press, including major newspapers.
At the event, consumers planned to talk about using complex rehab equipment in their daily lives. They also planned to talk about why CMS shouldn't bid the equipment.
"We're anxious for this to happen," said Paul Bergantino, an NCART board member and president of ATG Rehab in Newington, Conn. "We feel consumers are the ones who are the most appropriate to deliver this message, and it's a message that hasn't been heard by some regulators, because if it were, complex rehab wouldn't be in competitive bidding."
Allen was also scheduled to speak at the event, Hildebrandt said.
Additionally, NCART named the week of Sept. 24 "Rehab Exemption Week." It planned to ask providers to call or fax their representatives about the importance of the carve-out bill.