Consumers give their stamp of approval

Thursday, July 22, 2010

WASHINGTON - Efforts to create a separate benefit for complex rehab technology began to gel this summer with a big endorsement from the ITEM Coalition.

The coalition is a consumer group that raises awareness and builds support for policies that will improve access to assistive devices, technologies and service for people with disabilities.

"We do look at this as a consumer initiative," said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART.

Industry stakeholders planned to meet with coalition leaders in July to discuss, among other things, how to spread  word of their efforts to the coalition's dozens of members, which include the United Spinal Association and the United Cerebral Palsy Association.

Also in June, industry stakeholders completed their review of a regulatory and legislative roadmap developed by Avalere Health. In July, they expected to work with Avalere to draft legislation and start discussions with "select congressional offices," Clayback said.

Also on tap for the summer: Industry stakeholders planned to re-issue a discussion paper on the separate benefit by the end of July.

"It will be an updated outline of what the benefit will look like," Clayback said. "It brings into perspective in a little more detail the needs of the consumer to get equipment, the needs of the clinician to be able to prescribe and obtain equipment that's appropriate, and the need of the provider and manufacturer to have a funding mechanism in place."

The re-issued discussion paper will also include revisions, particularly to a section that outlines a decision tree for determining whether or not a beneficiary needs a complex rehab evaluation.

"That's the issue that generated the most comment and feedback and that's the area that received the most revision," said Tim Pederson, chairman of AAHomcare's Complex Rehab and Mobility Council and CEO of WestMed Rehab in Rapid City, S.D. "I think it will be evident that we addressed concerns."