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Accessories: ‘Our road has not ended’

Accessories: ‘Our road has not ended’

Seth JohnsonWASHINGTON – It’s not a permanent fix, but stakeholders say it’s a great sign that, about a month after taking the reins, CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure agreed to extend a suspension of scheduled Medicare cuts to accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs. 

CMS announced on June 23 that it would extend an 18-month pause on applying competitive bidding pricing to these accessories for an additional 90 days, until Oct. 1. 

“We have seen some decisions (since Brooks-LaSure took office) and we had a pretty big decision (on the 23rd),” said Seth Johnson, senior vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products and Quantum Rehab. 

Stakeholders had been in a holding pattern on various initiatives – including permanently exempting accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs from bid pricing – while Brooks-LaSure’s nomination stalled due to a dispute in Congress over Medicaid waivers. She was finally confirmed on May 25. 

The extension is “reason to celebrate,” says NCART’s Don Clayback, and a reason to “show appreciation” to CMS, as well as the industry’s champions in Congress who signed and sent a letter to Brooks-LaSure on June 21 asking her to stop the cuts.  

“Our road has not ended yet and we really need to push this to the conclusion, but we want to take this time to thank all the people and organizations that have been pushing for this,” said Clayback, executive director. 

The 90-day extension gives CMS and Brooks-LaSure more time to figure out how they can permanently exempt accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs from bid pricing, Clayback says. 

“The idea is to give CMS another 90 days to do their due diligence to make the appropriate policy decision, like they have for accessories for complex rehab power wheelchairs,” he said. “We will be staying in close contact with CMS in these next 90 days.” 

Stakeholders will continue to fight for a permanent fix, including during a scheduled National CRT Awareness Week on Sept. 20 and a virtual lobbying day on Sept. 21. 

“Those are very well timed,” Johnson said.


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