HR3229-01
Issue Background

Legislation to Protect Rehab Wheelchair Accessories

H.R. 3229 was introduced in the House on 07/27/2015

S. 2196 was introduced in the Senate on 10/22/2015

S. 2196 would help ensure that individuals with profound disabilities have access to these essential products

A Senate bill to protect patient access to complex rehab wheelchair accessories by preventing the application of prices derived from the Medicare competitive bidding program was formally introduced today.  The full title of the bill is S. 2196, to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for the nonapplication of Medicare competitive acquisition rates to complex rehabilitative wheelchairs and accessories.
 
Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pa.) is the lead sponsor of the bill, with Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) joining him as original co-sponsors at introduction.
 
The legislation is needed on account of CMS’ stated intention to apply competitive bid program pricing to complex rehab wheelchair accessories effective January 1, 2016. This policy change could impact as many as 171 wheelchair accessory codes.  The Senate bill is companion legislation to H.R. 3229, which was introduced in the House in July of this year and has accumulated 35 co-sponsors in the House thus far.
 
“This legislation will protect Medicare beneficiaries who rely on this specialized equipment for mobility and meeting basic personal needs on a daily basis,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “Congress has previously recognized that specialized complex rehab wheelchairs and accessories are very different from standard wheelchairs, so severe cuts based on bidding program results for standard wheelchair accessories simply doesn’t make sense.”
 
Ryan added that “Applying severe cuts in this area will ultimately restrict access to these essential products for people with profound disabilities, and will also increase challenges for the caregivers and institutions that serve this population.”
 
“Introduction of the bill is great news for all complex rehab stakeholders,” said Seth Johnson, vice president of government relations for Pride Mobility Products Corp.  “We have been working with Senator Casey’s office for years on various competitive bidding-related issues, and when we updated them on CMS’ plans to apply bid prices for standard wheelchair accessories to complex rehab wheelchair accessories, they took an active role in moving this important legislation forward.”
 
"We are grateful that Senator Portman has taken a leadership role to ensure that people with disabilities will continue to have access to the complex wheelchair accessories they need to be able to function to the fullest extent possible," said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare Corp.

AAHomecare will continue to work with the the National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology as well as disability advocacy groups in support of this much-needed legislation.