Zeldin fuels efforts to reverse decision on accessories

Friday, July 31, 2015

WASHINGTON – Mobility stakeholders have found a new champion in Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y.

Zeldin introduced a bill last week that would provide a technical correction to prevent CMS from applying competitive bid pricing to accessories for complex power wheelchairs.

“His name was suggested to us because he’s on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART. “We met with his office the day after the congressional CRT Expo (on July 20) to discuss the issue and its implications, not just with Medicare, but also with veterans. At the end of the day, he agreed to introduce the bill and help us push for a solution.” 

Stakeholders say the change, slated for Jan. 1, 2016, would violate previous legislation exempting complex rehab from competitive bidding and could result in payment cuts ranging from 20% to 50%.

Now that H.R. 3229 has dropped, the next step is adding co-sponsors. One advantage stakeholders have: 101 members of the House of Representatives have already signed a “Dear Colleague” letter asking CMS to reverse its decision.

In addition, a second sign-on letter is expected to start circulating in the Senate.

“Hopefully out of that letter we could develop a champion who’s willing to carry the water on a Senate bill,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. 

The ultimate goal is attaching H.R. 3229 to a larger piece of legislation. 

“We’re hearing that there are going to be some Medicare fixes, probably considered in the fall, so legislation like this could be attached to that,” said Ryan. “There’s also the fact that we might just have to do a continuing resolution to keep the government open, and that’s as good a vehicle as any.”