A bill that would exempt complex rehab from CMS’s competitive bidding program, called the Medicare Access to Complex Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Act of 2008 (S. 2931) was introduced by Senators Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) earlier this week.
The legislation would exempt complex rehab services from competitive bidding in order to help ensure patient access to custom-configured equipment to meet their specific needs. This addresses unique equipment designed to help patients with conditions such as spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy, spina bifida, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or multiple sclerosis.
Tim Pederson, CEO of Rapid City, S.D.-based WestMed Rehab and chair of AAHomecare’s Rehab and Assistive Technology Council (RATC) said that he had been working with Sen. Johnson and his staff for the past two years. Pederson and RATC Vice Chair Seth Johnson, of Pride Mobility Products Corp., were informed by Sen. Johnson’s office that the three senators would be introducing the legislation.
“The introduction of this critical legislation in the Senate would not have been possible without the efforts of several members of AAHomecare’s Rehab and Assistive Technology Council,” Pederson said.
“Competitive bidding, while well-intentioned, does not work well for items that must be customized for individuals with complex and specialized needs,” Stabenow said in a Senate Statement introducing the legislation. “If a Medicare beneficiary has been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy and uses a power wheelchair due to the loss of muscle tone in the body, a wheelchair that is tailored to the individual is imperative for several reasons. Power wheelchairs that are not adapted to the particular needs of the individual lead to more than mere discomfort, but also can further worsening health.”
S.2931 joins companion legislation in the House, H.R. 2231, the Medicare Access to Complex Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Act of 2007, which was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last year by Representatives Tom Allen (D-Maine) and Ron Lewis (R-Ky.). The House bill currently has 41 cosponsors in the House.