Permobil drafts consumer protection bill

Saturday, November 30, 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Permobil is drafting a bill that would require that rehab providers in Tennessee become members of the National Registry of Rehab Technology Suppliers (NRRTS) or the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA), beginning Jan. 1, 2004.

"Rehab is the only profession where someone has their hands all over you, but they don't have to have a license or certification," said Darren Jernigan, director of government affairs for Permobil. "There are too many things that aren't ethical going on. There's too much, 'Wink, nod, here's your chair.'"

Permobil plans to present the bill, which has been named the "Consumer Protection Act for Wheeled Mobility," to the state Legislature in January. It has sponsors in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and it's currently revising a draft of a bill with the help of a focus group comprised of manufactures, providers, end-users and industry associations.

The draft of the bill would also require that rehab providers employ certified rehab technology suppliers (CRTSs), assistive technology suppliers (ATSs) or assistive technology practitioners (ATPs), beginning Jan. 1, 2007. NRRTS issues CRTSs, and RESNA issues ATSs and ATPs.

Currently, Georgia is the only state that requires professionals who fit custom wheelchairs and seating systems be members of NRRTS. Once a member for two years, the state recommends they become CRTSs.

Jernigan said Permobil is taking things a step further by looking to have the requirements approved by the Legislature.

"Ours could become law," he said. "Theirs is a policy. If a new governor or a new Medicaid administrator doesn't like it, they can change the policy."

Jernigan said the only resistance Permobil's plan has gotten so far is from physical therapists who say it could limit their practice. He said the plan would actually increase their business because the draft of the bill requires a PT or an occupational therapist not employed by the provider perform evaluations, beginning Jan. 1, 2007. HME