Congressman Zeldin and House Colleagues Secure Victory for Individuals with Disabilities
Long Island, NY - June 28, 2017 - Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) announced that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a new policy for complex rehabilitative power wheelchairs and related accessories. This policy change helps ensure that disabled individuals have access to quality and affordable medical devices which they rely upon for day to day living. With enactment of the new CMS rule, individuals who utilize power wheelchairs and related accessories will now be guaranteed fixed prices for the equipment they rely upon. Further action is still required to align complex manual wheelchair pricing with complex power equipment pricing. In Congress, Rep. Zeldin will continue advancing his bipartisan bill (H.R. 1361) to further protect patients who utilize this Complex Rehabilitation Technology (CRT). To read more about the bill, click here.
This announcement comes after Congressman Zeldin joined last week with Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R, WA-5), Dave Loebsack (D, IA-2), and Diana DeGette (D, CO-1), and co-led a bipartisan group of over 150 co-signers in the House of Representatives to express their joint concerns with the CMS policies and regulations related to the Durable Medical Equipment (DME) benefit in the Medicare program. DME is equipment required by patients for medical conditions. Examples include wheelchairs, crutches, ventilators, among much more. Currently, CMS policies and regulations related to DME have resulted in significant reductions in reimbursement, which severely limit access to DME accessories. These policies and regulations also shifted costs to other areas of Medicare. To view a copy of the letter, which was sent to the Honorable Tom Price, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, and Ms. Seema Verma, Administrator of CMS, click here.
Congressman Zeldin said, “I am pleased that the administration has reversed a prior executive branch policy for power wheelchairs and related accessories. This effort ensures that beneficiaries will have affordable access to the equipment and supplies they rely upon for daily living, which is why my legislative proposal has such strong bipartisan support in the House. Protecting patients and ensuring they have access to the care and equipment that they need and deserve must always be a bipartisan priority.”
“On behalf of United Spinal Association and the one million individuals living with spinal cord injuries and disorders across the country, we are so appreciative of Congressman Zeldin of New York, along with Congressman Larson of Connecticut, for introducing HR 1361 which requests that CMS permanently exempt complex rehab power and manual wheelchair components from Medicare’s competitive bidding program’s reduced pricing. Late on Friday, days before a June 30 expiring deadline, CMS shared good news with Congress and leading advocates that CMS has now permanently exempted power wheelchair components from its competitive bidding program. Thanks again to Congressman Zeldin and Congressman Larson for their leadership in the House. Power wheelchair users across the country can continue to receive the power wheelchair components that they need from their choice of wheelchair provider. We now turn our attention to exempting manual wheelchair components from Medicare’s competitive bidding program” said James Weisman of Oyster Bay, NY, President and CEO, United Spinal Association. United Spinal is headquartered in New York.
Don Clayback, Executive Director of National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology, said, “Congressman Zeldin personally took this issue on in 2015 and has continued to work on it through the introduction of legislation and pursuing administrative relief. His continued leadership and perseverance on behalf of the people with disabilities who rely on specialized complex rehab technology wheelchairs should be applauded. This policy change will make a very positive difference in the lives of people with disabilities.”
“The Society applauds the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services for clarifying that power CRT accessories are to be paid at traditional Medicare rates,” says Bari Talente, Executive Vice President of Advocacy for the National MS Society. “This will help ensure that people with progressed MS have access to fundamental components of wheelchairs like tilt-and-recline systems and customized seat cushions that keep them healthy and independent. We also thank Rep. Zeldin for his leadership—bringing attention to the importance of this issue, as we continue to work for protected access to manual CRT accessories and CRT generally.”