Stakeholders chase legislative fix for accessories

‘This is definitely on their radar screens,’ says NCART’s Don Clayback of Congress
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Friday, March 10, 2017

WASHINGTON – Now that bills have been introduced in both the House of Representatives and Senate to permanently protect reimbursement for accessories for complex manual and power wheelchairs, stakeholders are in a race against time to get Congress to act on the issue.

Late last year, stakeholders were able to secure a six-month delay in CMS’s plans to apply competitive bidding-related pricing to accessories for complex power wheelchairs—a delay that expires July 1 of this year.

“We’re in a relatively good space,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART. “The bills have been dropped and we have a good group of original co-sponsors out of the gate. We’ve had communication with staff members on key committees. This is definitely on their radar screens.”

Reps. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., and John Larson, D-Conn., introduced H.R. 1361 with 18 other co-sponsors, 10 Republicans and eight Democrats, six of whom sit on the Ways and Means Committee and five on the Energy & Commerce Committee. Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Rob Portman, D-Ohio, introduced S. 486 with eight other co-sponsors, four Republicans and four Democrats, three of whom sit on the Finance Committee.

The first task at hand now: meet or surpass the number of co-sponsors for last year’s bills—147 and 26 in the House and Senate, respectively, Clayback says.

“We need to move quickly to build on past co-sponsors,” he said.

From there, three different scenarios could play out, stakeholders say: The bills could be attached to a larger vehicle and passed; the bills could be passed on their own, through a suspension process; or, if time is running out, industry champions in Congress could extend the delay.

“We’re working on all tracks, but if there is not an opportunity to address the issue before the July 1 implementation date, they’re ready to provide the additional time needed for a permanent fix,” said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products.

Stakeholders are also in communication with the new leadership at CMS. They argue it’s within the regulatory authority of Tom Price, the new secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, to drop the reimbursement change.

“We’re pursuing whether or not there’s an opportunity there,” Johnson said. “MIPAA, the law passed in 2008 that exempts complex rehab from competitive bidding, clearly exempts complex rehab wheelchairs and options and accessories.”