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Complex rehab update: Clock ticks on accessories, telehealth advances

Complex rehab update: Clock ticks on accessories, telehealth advances

WASHINGTON - Stakeholders are still waiting to see who will officially lead CMS under President Biden, largely stalling their efforts to permanently eliminate competitive bidding pricing for accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs. 

An 18-month suspension on bid pricing is set to expire on July 1. 

“Between the COVID uproar last year and the fact that we’re now still waiting for the CMS administrator – we’re in a difficult position,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART, during a recent webcast. “We don’t have a definitive decision yet and June 30 will be here before we know it.” 

Congress passed the suspension in 2019 to give CMS time to permanently eliminate bid pricing for complex rehab manual wheelchairs, like it has for complex rehab power wheelchairs. 

Stakeholders have “laid the groundwork” with CMS staff to make the change permanent and have kept in touch with their champions in Congress, who stand at the ready, Clayback says. 

“They are going to reach out to the secretary and the administrator as soon as they’re in place,” he said. “There’s an urgency to make this permanent.” 

Updates on other regulatory priorities: 

There is now a bill in the House of Representatives that would permanently expand the use of telehealth beyond the current public health emergency, including for physical therapists and occupational therapists providing wheelchair management services. 

“(The House Energy and Commerce Committee recently held) a robust hearing for four hours and there was positive acknowledgement that it’s beneficial,” Clayback said. “It really gave telehealth an opportunity to shine. There is a consensus that some of that needs to be made permanent. The question is how much.” 

Stakeholders had a meeting scheduled with CMS on March 25 to provide further explanation of their request to reconsider the national coverage determination for mobility assistive equipment to include power seat elevation and power standing systems for Group 3 power wheelchairs. 

“The next big step is for CMS to publicly announce that they’re considering reconsidering the policy and opening that up for public comment for 30 days,” Clayback said. 





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