Wanted: Bipartisan launch for complex rehab bill

Thursday, December 1, 2011

WASHINGTON - The search is on for a Republican co-sponsor for a bill to create a separate benefit for complex rehab technology (CRT), NCART Executive Director Don Clayback told listeners during a Nov. 28 conference call.

"Our objective right now is to secure bipartisan introduction of the bill," said Clayback. "We're looking for a Republican in the most influential position we can obtain."

In late October, the steering committee working on the bill, led by Clayback, secured a guarantee from Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., to sponsor it. Once the bill is introduced, the work to secure additional cosponsors will begin, along with efforts to find a legislative vehicle. 

Progress has been slower than stakeholders expected, Clayback said, due to Congress' focus on reducing the deficit.

"I think it's more challenging than it was when we first started our initiative, but that doesn't take away the need for what we're trying to accomplish," said Clayback. "I'm confident it doesn't take away our determination, either."

One potential obstacle: The bill would cost money because it would make adjustments to CRT payments to allow for CPI increases, and it would exempt all CRT from competitive bidding. 

"You can't improve and protect access without making some changes to the system," said Clayback. "The question is whether those changes are rational and have broad-based support."

While it's still early for grassroots efforts, providers should check in regularly with their lawmakers to discuss the importance of CRT, Clayback said. Inviting lawmakers to see their work firsthand will also pay off in the long run, he said.