Rehab carve-out bill: 'We're hopeful'

Sunday, May 13, 2007

WASHINGTON - NCART succeeded in getting a rehab carve-out bill introduced in the House of Representatives just in time for its legislative fly-in last week. Reps. Tom Allen, D-Maine, and Ron Lewis, R-Ky., introduced the bill, which aims to exempt complex rehab from national competitive bidding, on May 9.

"We're hopeful," said Sharon Hildebrandt, executive director of NCART. "We're getting co-sponsors. We need to get a bill introduced in the Senate. We're also looking for a vehicle. Obviously, this legislation has to be attached to something, but the vehicle probably won't pop up until fall."

Supporters of the carve-out bill argue that complex rehab products meet unique needs, making them inappropriate for competitive bidding.

NCART used the May 9-10 fly-in to lobby for the bill. More than 80 members participated in the event (compared to about 50 last year); they held more than 130 meetings (compared to about 100 last year).

Six consumers also participated in the event.

"That was really important," Hildebrandt said. "They described the equipment and the service involved. The (legislative aides) wanted to know how long it took to get fitted for a chair, and the consumers were there to tell them."

Hildebrandt called the reception "good."

In a release, Allen stated: "It is necessary for Medicare beneficiaries using complex rehab technologies to receive equipment and services for their unique medical needs. Efforts to reduce healthcare spending, while important, must also be tailored to assure the best clinical outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries."