Show Your Support for Complex Rehab Technology on April 29

On May 1, your occupational or physical therapist could be talking to your U.S. Senator.

On May 1, the assistive technology provider who repairs your wheelchair might be talking to your Congressman or Congresswoman.

It’s all part of the industry’s annual Washington, D.C., visit to talk to lawmakers about the value of the mobility technology.

And this year, those folks hope that if you can’t join them in person, you’ll have their backs at home.

April 29 is Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) Call-In Day – your chance to phone your members of Congress to tell them you support the “Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act of 2013.”

There are currently two “Ensuring Access” bills: H.R. 942 in the House of Representatives and S. 948 in the Senate.

Their goals: to “protect and improve access to CRT for people with significant disabilities and chronic medical conditions by creating a separate category for CRT under the Medicare program to provide a distinction of the specialized nature of CRT products and allow for other needed changes,” according to the National Coalition for Assistive & Rehab Technology (NCART).

Simply speaking: The bills seek to officially establish the unique nature of equipment such as manual and power wheelchairs that need to be custom fitted or built to each user’s needs. Currently, those highly individualized types of equipment are in the same Medicare category as the mass-produced, one-size-fits-most canes, walkers and standard manual wheelchairs that you can buy at a drugstore.

So on May 1, clinicians, providers, manufacturers of complex rehab technology and consumers will meet with members of Congress to explain why the highly customized equipment used by people with cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and other serious conditions is different and needs to be protected and preserved.

And the industry is asking you to call your members of Congress to voice your support as well.

Go to access2crt.org and look at “Co-Sponsors by State” under the Separate Benefit Category Needed” heading. Check to see if your two Senators and your Congressional Representative have signed on the H.R. 942 and S. 948. (If you’re not sure who your Senators or Representative are, go to govtrack.us/congress/members and type in your ZIP code.)

If any of your members of Congress haven’t signed the bills, call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 225-3121. Ask to be connected to the offices of your Senators or Representative. When you reach their offices, ask to speak to the Health Legislative Assistant regarding pending Medicare legislation.

NCART suggests that you relay this message: “I am calling to ask Representative __________ (or Senator __________) to sign on as a co‚Äźsponsor to House Bill H.R. 942 (or Senate Bill S. 948) to establish a Separate Category for Complex Rehab Technology under the Medicare program. This bill protects access to specialized wheelchairs, seating systems, and other adaptive equipment used by a small population of people with significant disabilities such as spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, ALS, and multiple sclerosis. It is gaining strong support in Congress and already has 109 Representatives and 12 Senators signed on. The bill is also supported by more than 50 national consumer and medical professional groups, including the United Spinal Association, the ALS Association, the MS Society, the American Association for People with Disabilities, and the Paralyzed Veterans Association.”

For more information on the ongoing effort, visit access2crt.org.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.