Will Texas be next?

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

AUSTIN, Texas - A group of Texas rehab providers plans to introduce policy this year that would require credentials to provide custom wheelchairs.
The Greater Texas Rehab Providers' Council created a working group recently to draft the policy. The council intends to present the policy to the state's Medicaid program in late 2006, according to Tom Hafford, president of both the council and Mobility Dynamics in Cleburne, Texas.
The council hasn't decided what level of credentialing it will recommend, whether it's NRRTS registration, RESNA certification or both, culminating in NRRTS's Certified Rehabilitation Technology Supplier (CRTS) designation.
"We do feel that, at some point, you have to have people who are active in the day-to-day evaluation, specification and dispensing of high-end mobility equipment," Hafford said. "My RESNA credential is good until 2010, whether or not I lay a hand on a wheelchair in the next five years. My NRRTS registration requires annual involvement and continuing education."
If, eventually, the council went as far as to require CRTSs, it would be only the second state to do so behind Georgia (see related story page 29). Other states like California require NRRTS registration or ATS certification but not CRTS designation.
Credentialing is important to protect consumers and recognize the value-added services provided by qualified professionals, said Ron Kieschnik, a council member.
"It addresses the less than stellar impression that the general public and the payer sources have of the industry," said Kieschnik, owner of Seating Profiles in Houston. "Professional providers are trying to identify themselves as not being part of the hordes of providers involved in Wheeler Dealer."
Hafford expects the process of introducing and, hopefully, approving the policy to take nine months. If credentialing becomes a policy, the council plans to create and introduce legislation in 2007.
The council was close to introducing legislation in 2006, but the bill was killed in the 11th hour.
"Legislative aides and lawyers wrote legislation based on a draft we submitted, but they came up with, basically, a licensing law," Hafford said. "It went into the sausage mill down there, and it bore little resemblance to the cuts of beef we had sent in."