New Georgia reg requires NRRTS and RESNA membership

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

ATLANTA, Ga. -- A new regulation, effective July 1, will require Georgia providers to be both registrants of NRRTS and RESNA certified to supply certain pieces of rehab equipment under the state's Medicaid program.
While several states have adopted similar criteria for rehab providers through legislation or regulatory changes, Georgia is breaking new ground by requiring both standards in order to participate in the state's Medicaid program.
The revised DME manual mandates that suppliers providing any wheelchair above a standard manual must be a NRRTS registrant. Suppliers providing custom wheelchairs with extensive modifications and seating systems must also pass RESNA's Assistive Technology Supplier (ATS) credentialing exam, according to Patricia Ross, program manager for Georgia Medicaid's division of medical assistance.
"I commend Pat Ross and Georgia Medicaid for recognizing that there should be a minimum criteria or minimum standards for certain types of rehab product," said Dan Lipka, president of NRRTS. "That's really the primary inception on which NRRTS was founded."
Others argue that requiring suppliers to be both NRRTS and RESNA credentialed could be too limiting.
"There's a big difference between AND and OR," said Jerry Keiderling, vice president of VGM's U.S. Rehab.
U.S. Rehab worries that the stiff requirement will limit new start-ups because of the time it takes to become a member of NRRTS and study for the ATS exam. Keiderling said he and other stakeholders are working to open discussion with Medicaid officials about the possible impacts of the mandate.
"It's part of a step toward professionalism in the industry, but it's a pretty harsh one," he said. "I would like to see Georgia open it for discussion to determine what would be best for the state and its beneficiaries."
U.S. Rehab requires its members to be either a NRRTS registrant or an ATS.
Others in the industry say that NRRTS is taking a much too prominent role in credentialing legislation because, they argue, NRRTS is not an officially recognized credentialing organization, as RESNA is.
"RESNA is the only credentialing body that the assistive technologies and rehab industry has," said Calvin Cole, Hoveround's director of corporate development and governmental affairs. "It has taken RESNA many years to develop a standard that is a skill and knowledge-based testing credential. It is a shame that at the eleventh hour, a non-inclusive special interest group is portraying itself to be the gatekeeper of our industry."
Hoveround, specifically, has a lot to lose at the outset of Georgia's new requirement. Its employees cannot be registrants of NRRTS or a CRTS because Hoveround is considered a manufacturer by NRRTS. Even individuals who were registrants previously lose that distinction when they are hired by Hoveround.
Lipka argues that NRRTS's distinction between providers and manufacturers sets it apart from RESNA.
NRRTS membership has also been included in California legislation. That bill would require rehab supplies to be an ATS or a registrant of NRRTS to provide equipment -- giving the RESNA credential and NRRTS registration equally billing in the state.
Georgia providers were given two years notice of the July 1 deadline. There is also a grandfather clause in place that will protect some providers who attempt and fail the ATS exam before July 1 or who are not able to schedule a test date before the deadline.
"My goal is to establish standards," said Ross. "It's not my business to let people do this business if they are not qualified. I am protecting mainly the Medicaid members who require custom rehab."