Separate benefit for complex rehab

Sunday, January 23, 2011

WASHINGTON - Industry stakeholders working to create a separate benefit for complex rehab have done their homework and now it's time to take the test.

When stakeholders hit Capitol Hill next month to visit with lawmakers, they expect to have a 25-page proposal paper, draft legislation and an estimate of what the benefit would cost.

"The feedback that we've gotten from one of the legislative assistants we've been working with is, while it's going to be a busy legislative session, he's encouraged that, at least from an organizational perspective, we have these three components," said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART, which is leading efforts to create the benefit. "They give members of Congress all they need to make an evaluation, ask questions and, ideally, sign on and help us push this forward."

Stakeholders will visit with lawmakers Feb. 16-18 as part of CELA and again March 16-17 as part of AAHomecare's Washington Legislative Conference.

This month, in the weeks leading up to the two events, a legislative workgroup was putting the finishing touches on draft legislation and a consulting firm was working on a "score," Clayback said.

"Those are two things that have been missing in a lot of our discussions with members of Congress to date, so that's what we'll be armed with," he said.

Now that stakeholders have made the rounds several times to educate lawmakers on the separate benefit, this year's visits will be more about pining down sponsors and co-sponsors for the legislation, Clayback said.

"We're at the start of that process and we have key leaders identified who will hopefully be able to introduce it," he said. "That's really going to be the message at CELA: 'Here's the language we need. Can you introduce it or sign on to it?'"

While stakeholders expect to make considerable progress this spring, Clayback wants to manage expectations.

"It's important for people to recognize that this is more of a marathon than a sprint," he said. "We're looking for people to remain engaged throughout the year."