Congress Votes to Protect Access to CRT

Posted by Reeve Foundation Staff in Daily Dose on December 21, 2015 # Advocacy and Policy

In one of their last votes of the year, Congress passed a bill supported by the Reeve Foundation to protect access to mobility equipment in Medicare. The federal Medicare office had been planning payment cuts that would have seriously hurt access to complex rehabilitation technology – the individually configured wheelchairs and mobility equipment essential for health and independence for people living with paralysis. These cuts were scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2016, and the Reeve Foundation and our partners in DC have spent the last few months urging Congress to stop the cuts.

As part of this effort, Reeve Foundation advocates sent 250 customized postcards to their Members of Congress showing the importance of their equipment and asking Congress to repeal the payment change.

We at the Reeve Foundation believe that essential, customized, individually configured mobility equipment is the wrong place to look for cost savings. This equipment enables people to live healthy, independent lives, and jeopardizing access could lead to more secondary conditions, hospital stays, and even nursing home stays. As we said in our postcard campaign – It’s About Freedom.

While we did not get a full repeal, and the delay only applies to power (not manual) chairs, this one-year delay will allow us more time to work with Congress and the administration on why a full repeal for all CRT is necessary. The bill also calls on the Government Accountability Office to study how Medicare sets its payment rates and their “competitive bidding” program that schedules the payment cuts.

Thank you to all of the advocates who wrote emails, made phone calls, and sent postcards to ask Congress to protect our equipment! We couldn’t have done this without you, or our advocacy partners in this effort: the ALS Association, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Coalition for Assistive and Rehabilitation Technology, National Council on Independent Living, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and United Spinal.

However, our work is not done. We must work throughout 2016 to get a full repeal of the payment cuts for all CRT chairs. Please contact your Members of Congress to thank them for passing this one year delay and urge them to end the cuts.