Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Disability Groups Claim Crucial Medical Equipment Is "Under Attack": Urge Congress to Pass Corrective Bill: Rep. Zeldin Says Congress Must Now Act Again to Ensure That a More Permanent Fix Is Granted

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Disability Groups Claim Crucial Medical Equipment Is "Under Attack": Urge Congress to Pass Corrective Bill: Rep. Zeldin Says Congress Must Now Act Again to Ensure That a More Permanent Fix Is Granted

Article excerpt

Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) is spearheading an effort to protect people with disabilities by ensuring they have access to essential medical equipment, such as specialized power wheelchairs, seating systems, and other adaptive equipment (collectively called Complex Rehabilitation Technology or CRT). To this end, he has introduced legislation (H.R. 3229) that clarifies the 2008 Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) by prohibiting the application of Medicare competitive acquisition rates to complex rehabilitative wheelchairs and accessories. Zeldin is joined and "fully" supported in his efforts by the ALS Association, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, VetsFirst and the United Spinal Association.

REHAB EQUIPMENT INITIALLY EXCLUDED FROM COMPETITIVE BIDDING

When the MIPPA was enacted into law, it provided that CRT devices would be excluded from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) Competitive Bidding Program. Excluded devices include power wheelchairs and the related accessories, which are the fundamental parts of the products that make them useful and beneficial to people with progressed disabilities --such as recline/tilt systems, specialty controls and seat/back cushions.

In November 2014, CMMS ruled, contrary to MIPPA, that starting in January 2016, accessories that are used on complex rehabilitative wheelchairs would no longer be part of the fixed fee schedule, but would be subject to competitive bidding pricing. Rep. Zeldin said this ruling would be "devastating for the disabled community," decreasing access to individually configured wheelchairs and accessories.

A TEMPORARY FIX

In December 2015, Congress passed the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act (S.2425), which provided a one year delay in the application of Medicare competitive bid pricing for complex rehab power wheelchairs and accessories to keep fees from rising anywhere from at least 10% to 34%. Zeldin says Congress must now act again in 2016 to ensure that a more permanent fix is granted.

Zeldin: "My bill is just one effort to help Americans with disabilities attain the self-sufficiency & independence we all cherish."

The Congressman's legislation, H.R. 3229, which has companion legislation in the Senate (S.2196), has strong bipartisan support in Congress with already over 135 House cosponsors. …

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