Stakeholders make their case for a separate benefit for complex rehab


Industry stakeholders got a taste for what they're up against when, as part of CELA on Thursday, they visited lawmakers to discuss draft legislation for a separate benefit for complex rehab.

The general feeling among lawmakers seemed to be that they're burnt out on anything health care-related after last year's battle over reform and they're under extreme pressure not to spend any money.

One lawmaker told stakeholders: "We're borrowing 40 cents on every dollar."

That's why several lawmakers told stakeholders to follow-up with them once they've determined the cost of creating a separate benefit for complex rehab. NCART has contracted a firm to do this and it expects to hear back in the next 30 days. Additionally, once legislation is introduced, it will go to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for a "score."

"We're not looking at major price increases," said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART, during a briefing with attendees before the visits with lawmakers. "In some cases, there might not be any modifications at all (due to a separate benefit)."

For the most part, lawmakers were familiar with complex rehab, a testament to stakeholders' prior visits to the Hill to raise awareness. They knew that the product category had already been excluded from competitive bidding and the elimination of the first-month purchase option.

"The first time I came, my visits were five minutes; the second time, they were 10 minutes," said Leslie Rigg, a NRRTS board member and an ATP at ATS Wheelchair & Medical in Boise, Idaho. "This time, they were 20 to 30 minutes."

There are also leads on champions in New York and Massachusetts to introduce legislation, stakeholders say.

"We need to carry forward the passion from CELA," said Simon Margolis, executive director of NRRTS, during the opening remarks of the conference.

A separate benefit for complex rehab can't come fast enough for consumer Morgan Heino, a 28-year-old from Philadelphia who has degrees in psychology and addiction, and who is looking for a new job after getting laid off. She says life in a wheelchair is hard enough without having her access to the right equipment threatened.

"They don't see my degrees," she said of her potential new employers. "They only see my chair."

Liz Beaulieu


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