Rehab industry seeks new position

Sunday, April 19, 2009

WASHINGTON - When rehab providers hit Capitol Hill this week, they'll have a position paper in hand that explains why complex wheelchairs should be a separate benefit from DMEPOS.

"We'll be taking the temperature," said Gary Gilberti, president of NCART and president of Chesapeake Rehab Equipment in Baltimore. "We know this is a major lift, but we hope to get some champions, so we can move this forward."

Rehab providers will be in Washington, D.C, as part of the Continuing Education and Legislative Advocacy Conference (CELA) April 21-23 in Baltimore. The conference is organized by NRRTS, NCART and University of Pittsburg, and co-located at the HME Expo and Conference.

The two-page position paper builds the case for creating a separate benefit for complex wheelchairs. It points out that rehab providers must provide broader services, employ specialized staff and meet stricter quality standards.

"We have a lot of distinctive qualities," said Tim Pederson, co-chairman of AAHomecare's Rehab and Assistive Technology Council (RATC), which created a task force earlier this month to discuss creating a separate benefit and, eventually, drafting legislation.

The rehab industry seeks to model itself after other industries that are similar but separate from DMEPOS--like orthotics and prosthetics (O&P). While still technically part of the DMEPOS benefit, O&P has its own code set and reimbursement.

Rehab providers aim to weave creating a separate benefit for complex wheelchairs into the larger discussion of healthcare reform.

"We want to reform the payment and coverage methodology for complex wheelchairs," said Sharon Hildebrant, executive director of NCART. "It just fits in with everything."