NCART walks Capitol Hill

Thursday, March 31, 2005

WASHINGTON -- NCART celebrated its first anniversary in February with a legislative fly-in and rehab technology fair designed to promote the organization's two most pressing issues -- a competitive bidding carve-out for rehab and Medicare's in-the-home restriction.
NCART's first major event drew 88 attendees to Washington D.C., where they made 106 office visits to members of Congress.
"For the first one and one that had never been done before, I think that it was very successful," said attendee Nancy Lansing, director of marketing for Connecticut Rehab/ATG. Five members of Congress and 43 staffers visited the rehab fair, which was held the same day in the Capitol building. The purpose of the fair was to educate lawmakers and their staff about the complexities of high-end rehab equipment and why it should be excluded from national competitive bidding.
Clinicians and end-users with spinal cord injuries and progressive disorders, like muscular dystrophy, staffed the fair, and their presence played a big role in its success, said NCART Executive Director Sharon Hildebrandt. The PTs and OTs talked about the process of fitting high-end chairs. The consumers explained why having individualized equipment was important in retaining their independence.
"We thought it was important to have consumers tell their story because when we go to the Hill members of Congress see us as very self-interested, which is true, but we also have the interests of our clients in view," she said.
During the office visits, attendees talked about both competitive bidding and CMS's rigid "in-the-home" interpretation. NCART is asking representatives and senators to contact CMS about making regulatory changes on these issues.