Rehab report: Lawmakers send message on first-month purchase option, committee revamps separate benefit

Thursday, September 30, 2010

WASHINGTON - House and Senate lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have put their names behind the industry's effort to delay elimination of the first-month purchase option for standard power wheelchairs.

On Sept. 24, a letter signed by 46 representatives was sent to leaders of the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees. A week later, on Oct. 1, a letter signed by seven senators was sent to leaders of the Finance Committee.

"They both convey bipartisan support for this and that's what the key committees said they were looking for to get this done this year," said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products.

Stakeholders seek to delay the first-month purchase option for one year in exchange for a 1% reduction in the consumer price index-urban scale (CPI-U).

The industry aims to get the delay included in a "doc fix" bill that the leaders of key committees will likely take up after the Nov. 2 elections. Without a bill, a 20% reimbursement cut goes into effect for physicians Dec. 1.

"We're hitting all the right pressure points," Johnson said. "It's going to come down to getting a vehicle."

The industry's efforts also continue to garner support outside of Congress. Last week, the board of directors at NRRTS voted to support the delay and sent lawmakers a letter expressing their concern over making standard power wheelchairs a 13-month capped rental item without giving providers due time to re-align their businesses.

"NRRTS, in conjunction with other advocacy groups, believe that Medicare beneficiaries and the suppliers who serve them must have a one year delay to allow for a smoother transition of this significant policy change in a manner that will limit the negative impact on our consumers' access to medically necessary power wheelchairs," Executive Director Simon Margolis stated in the letter.

Committee revamps separate benefit

WASHINGTON - A steering committee working on a separate benefit for complex rehab released a new "proposal paper" last week. New material in the paper includes a draft CRT Stakeholders Bill of Rights and a CRT Service Delivery Matrix. It can be downloaded at; click on "current issues." The committee will host two teleconferences Oct. 4 and Oct. 12 to review the paper and answer questions To register for the Oct. 4 call, go to; to register for the Oct. 12 call, go to