Manual CRT Protections Move to Senate

House passes Medicaid bill containing provisions to protect funding for manual CRT accessories; Senate now working to consider bill under unanimous consent.

In what has turned out to be a nail-biting legislative finish for the complex rehab providers, the Senate is currently considering protections for manual CRT wheelchairs, and could pass them under unanimous consent this week before the 115th Congress adjourns.

In a 400-to-11 vote earlier this week, the House of Representatives passed those protections as part of, H.R. 7217, the Improving Medicaid Programs and Opportunities for Eligible Beneficiaries Act (aka, the IMPROVE Act). Those provisions originated from H.R. 3730, a bill the industry had been working to advance in the House, and were included in the House Medicaid bill by the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees.

The two provisions in the Medicaid legislation salient to manual CRT accessories are:

  • A permanent exemption for CRT manual wheelchair bases from competitive bidding.
  • An 18-month suspension to the application of competitive bidding payment rates for CRT manual wheelchair accessories, just like the CRT power wheelchair accessories. Accessories would go back to being paid at the traditional Medicare rates (in the same way as CRT power wheelchair accessories). The 18-month suspension runs from Jan. 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020, and would allow time for the needed discussion to make a permanent policy change.

Now in the Senate, Republican and Democrat leaders are working to consider the Medicaid bill under a process called unanimous consent, according to Jay Witter, senior vice president of Public Affairs for the American Association for Homecare. Witter said that industry advocates are closely monitoring the unanimous consent process, which he described as “sensitive.”

“If no Senator objects, the bill passes. If a Senator puts a hold on the bill, the process suspends,” Witter explained. “We know the Senate is working to clear the bill before the adjournment of the 115th Congress. … If a Senator objects, we will work to address it.”

About the Author

David Kopf is the Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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