The issue

A critical issue in the paralysis community is coverage for Complex Rehabilitation Technologies (CRT).

CRT consists of medically necessary and individually configured products and services designed to meet the unique medical and functional needs of individuals with disabilities to achieve high levels of function and good health outcomes, as well as participate independently in their community.

Unfortunately, CRT is currently coupled with the more general Durable Medical Equipment (DME) benefit. This results in patients facing a series of challenges when trying to access the appropriate and necessary technologies and services, including the competitive bidding program.

Medicare's DME benefit was drafted over 40 years ago. Over the years, durable medical equipment (DME) has advanced tremendously, becoming customized and unique to the user. Even though equipment has evolved, Medicare guidelines have not changed with technology. By creating a separate category under Medicare for CRT, the specific and unique equipment needs of individuals with disabilities can be met.

Next steps

In 2015, Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) introduced identical bills in the House and Senate, the "Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act.”

  • This legislation addresses existing challenges by:
  • Ensuring access to appropriate products and technology based on a person's functional needs, rather than diagnosis
  • Allowing individuals to access devices that can be used outside of the home and in the community, allowing individuals to work and participate in community life
  • Addressing problems of access related to the competitive bidding program
  • Ensuring access to local CRT suppliers equipped to make repairs and maintenance for specialized devices

However, the 114th Congress will adjourn without passing this important legislation; we will work to ensure that identical legislation will be introduced in 2017.

In better news, Congress added language to a large healthcare research bill to protect access to access to CRT. The bill staved off payment cuts that were scheduled to take effect on January 1 until June of 2017. Take a moment to thank your legislators for passing this language and let them know that we’ll be working with them in early 2017 to enact policies to assure continued access to

Resources

The National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology (NCART) is a national organization of suppliers and manufacturers of Complex Rehab Technology (CRT). NCART seeks to ensure individuals have appropriate access to CRT products and supporting services.