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Advocacy Win: CMS Makes Policy Change for Power CRT Wheelchair Accessories

Jun 30, 2017

Your Academy is a member of the Independence Through the Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid (ITEM) Coalition, which has been advocating all year to get the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) or Congress to fix the problem of competitive bid pricing being applied to manual and power complex rehabilitation technology (CRT) wheelchair accessories. Late last week, CMS announced it will not be applying Medicare Competitive Bid Program (CBP) reimbursement levels to Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) Group 3 power wheelchair accessories. This policy change averts significant cuts that were scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2017 and avoids drastic reductions in access to this specialized equipment for Medicare beneficiaries with significant disabilities. 

The ITEM Coalition sent several letters related to CRT this year to Congress and the Administration. Additionally, ITEM Coalition representatives and steering committee members recently joined United Spinal Association for a meeting with CMS officials to advocate for a permanent fix to CRT Accessories issues, along with solutions to other ITEM Coalition priorities including access to titanium wheelchairs and seat elevation technology. These efforts, along with those of countless advocates, patients, and providers, helped convince CMS that a policy change was needed to ensure access to CRT accessories for power wheelchair users.

This is great news for people with disabilities who rely on CRT Group 3 power wheelchairs. Unfortunately, there was no change in payment rates for accessories used with CRT manual wheelchairs. The ITEM Coalition will continue to pursue relief from last year's cuts to manual accessories and continue to work with Congress, CMS, and a wide range of other stakeholder groups to protect access to these important mobility devices.