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Push for manual accessories intensifies

Push for manual accessories intensifies

Don ClaybackWASHINGTON – Stakeholders have been working hard to get accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs permanently exempted from competitive bidding pricing for more than a year, but with Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure finally in place at CMS, it’s go time, they say.

These accessories have been temporarily exempted from bid pricing only until July 1. 

“This has been anticipated, this appointment, and not having that leadership position filled at the agency has really resulted in problems for our priority issues and one issue, in particular, that is time sensitive: the CRT manual wheelchair access issue,” said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products.

Congress voted in late 2019 to suspend bid pricing for accessories for complex rehab manual wheelchairs for 18 months, starting Jan. 1, 2020.

Upon learning the news last week, stakeholders and their champions reached out to Brooks-LaSure’s office and continued to work to schedule a call with Xavier Becerra, who was confirmed as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services in March.

“The problem (has been), with the COVID pandemic and the challenges of the lack of CMS leadership, it has been difficult to get some final resolution,” said Don Clayback, executive director of NCART. “We were working aggressively and we’re working even more aggressively now.”

Stakeholders are also leveraging recent outreach by the Administration for Community Living, a part of the HHS that supports people of all ages and disabilities living where they choose, on their behalf.

“We’re thankful (they have) weighed in on the issue,” Clayback said. “We’re creating some good conversations with CMS.”

Stakeholders advise providers and others to keep an eye out for more communication on how they can help going into June.

“It’s literally a week-by-week effort,” Clayback said. “There may be (the need) for grassroots activity.”


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