The Medicare program is planning to cut payments for complex rehab wheelchair accessories that are needed by people living with muscular dystrophy, ALS, Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and other muscle debilitating diseases. The cuts would limit access to critical accessories such as custom head support and seating systems, mounting hardware, adjustable leg rests, and specialty drive controls among other wheelchair accessories that people living with these diseases rely on every day to maintain independence and optimal health. The cuts were scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2016, but have been delayed for 12-months by a bill that passed Congress on December 18, 2015.
While the 12-month delay is a step in the right direction, it is not a permanent solution.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and ALS Association have joined together to support legislation introduced in the House (H.R. 3229) and Senate (S. 2196) that would stop these cuts and ensure that people living with neuromuscuar disease continue to have access to the full range of complex rehab accessories that meet their medical needs.
We will keep you informed as this situation continues to develop.
In 2008, the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and the ALS Association supported legislation that specifically excluded complex power wheelchairs and related accessories from Medicare’s competitive bidding program. Congress took this action because they understood that the competitive bidding program did not recognize the complexities of neuromuscular diseases like ALS and muscular dystrophy, the difficulties imposed by the diseases, or the sophisticated equipment and services that are required to help improve the lives of people living with these diseases. Since that time, complex rehab accessories have not been included in the competitive bidding program.
However, Medicare is now planning to change that, despite existing law that specifically excludes these technologies and despite the fact that such a change could reduce or even eliminate the availability of these vital technologies.