Last year, disability advocates scored a major victory when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it would no longer apply Medicare Competitive Bid program information for Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) products and supporting services. This decision was specific to only power wheelchairs, but it averted significant cuts and staved off drastic reductions in access to specialized equipment like seating and positioning systems, standing devices, gait trainers, among many other examples.
However, more than a year later, there has been no change in payment rates for manual wheelchair users who depend on CRT for greater health and independence. By reducing access to CRT equipment, there will be an increase in medical complications and out-of-pocket costs for people with disabilities.
Late last year, legislation was introduced to stop CMS from using Competitive Bid pricing for CRT equipment for manual wheelchairs. This legislation would provide a permanent exemption from the Medicare Competitive Bidding program for CRT manual wheelchair bases, and an 18-month "suspension" in Medicare's application of Competitive Bidding Program payment rates to CRT manual wheelchair accessories.
The 115th Congress is scheduled to adjourn THIS WEEK - it’s critical we put pressure on our legislators to pass this bill so that we can start the new year with greater resources for millions of Americans. If the bill isn't passed, a new bill will need to be introduced in 2019, and the process will start all over.
Power and manual CRT wheelchairs and CRT components are essential for many wheelchair users who are living with spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis. For these individuals, a wheelchair is not complete, usable, or safe without the appropriate complex rehab technology components included.
This legislation also has implications beyond people who require Medicare support. Insurance groups use the payment rates from the Medicare Competitive Bid program to define what they will and will not cover. That means many more people may have to fight or pay significant costs for equipment that is vital to their overall independence and quality of life.
People with disabilities who use a CRT manual wheelchair should have the same access to critical wheelchair components as those who use a CRT power wheelchair. Please enter your information on the right to get started and send a message to your legislator and urge them to sign onto legislation to correct this problem. The process will take less than two minutes, but could make a life-changing difference. Together, we achieve more.