Rehab stakeholders know the score

Thursday, September 1, 2011

WASHINGTON - Stakeholders now have a better idea what it would cost to create a separate benefit for complex rehab.

Stakeholders in July received a score for their draft bill from a Washington, D.C., consulting firm they hired, and it's in line with their expectations. But for now, they're only sharing the score with potential sponsors.

"We want to make sure we get the input from whoever might be our champion and really take their direction on how that information will be communicated," said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART. 

Until now, the score has been a major hurdle between stakeholders having a bill drafted and getting a sponsor.

While any bill that costs money will be under scrutiny by lawmakers, stakeholders feel strongly that efforts to create a separate benefit will succeed.

"I truly believe it's right, in terms of its benefit to society for including people with disabilities and benefiting from what they have to offer," said Simon Margolis, executive director of NRRTS. "Mobility shouldn't be the thing that keeps people back."

One thing that might actually help move the bill along: Even though Congress carved out complex rehab from competitive bidding, CMS still included certain complex rehab codes in the standard wheelchair category for Round 2 of the program. 

"That's been a talking point that now will be more elevated," said Clayback. "Even in spite of all our efforts in educating CMS, they still included some complex rehab codes in that category. It just underscores the fact that we need this separate recognition."

The road ahead likely won't be easy, but stakeholders see the fall as an active time for the separate benefit effort.

"No matter what kind of problems we run into now and in the near future, it still is an effort by AAHomecare, NCART, NRRTS and RESNA, working together," Margolis said.