New bill energizes CELA attendees

'We've moved into a new arena,' Clayback says
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Friday, April 20, 2012

WASHINGTON - Stakeholders attending CELA last week took to the Hill with a new and powerful tool: a bill to create a separate benefit for complex rehab, something they've been fighting for since 2009.

"We've reached a major milestone," said Simon Margolis, executive director of NRRTS, at CELA. "It makes it so much easier to explain what we're doing. We've been working toward this for years."

More than 150 stakeholders attended the two-day event. They conducted 237 visits to congressional offices on April 19 to promote H.R. 4378, introduced the day before by Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y.

NCART Executive Director Don Clayback expects more interaction between stakeholders and lawmakers now that the bill has been introduced.

"Now that the bill is more public, we expect to see more support and more questions from lawmakers," he said. "We've moved into a new arena."

During visits on the Hill, stakeholders told lawmakers and staffers that the bill, "Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act of 2012," would: carve out complex rehab from the DME benefit, put standards in place to ensure the equipment is provided by qualified professionals and permanently exempt it from competitive bidding.

Additionally, stakeholders told them that the bill would remove a restriction that allows coverage for complex rehab only for use "in the home."

"The goal is inclusion in the community," said Paul Tobin, president and CEO of United Spinal Association. "Millions of federal dollars have gone into making our country accessible, yet Medicare only talks about 'for use in the home.'"

Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm Dobson & Davanzo has given the bill a score of $5 million a year. That's a cost, stakeholders say, that would easily be made up by better equipment being provided by better-qualified professionals, resulting in fewer secondary medical conditions like pressure sores.

Post-CELA, stakeholders will now work to follow up with lawmakers and staffers on an official score from the Congressional Budget Office, on co-signers for the bill in the House, and on a companion bill in the Senate.

"This has been a big week for complex rehab," said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products. "We've had very positive meetings and I'm confident we'll see support for the bill building in the coming weeks."