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National MS Society Supports Complex Rehabilitation Technology Accessories

November 10, 2015

Since 2014, the National MS Society has worked in coalition with patient advocacy organizations and providers to ensure access to complex rehabilitation technology (CRT), which are individually configured wheelchairs, seating and positioning systems and other equipment that keep people with progressed disabilities healthy and independent. This advocacy has included urging Congress to pass the Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act (H.R. 1516/S. 1013) which would create a separate Medicare benefit category for CRT, streamlining and improving access and creating higher quality standards for these specialized products. 
 
More recently, the Society has been working with coalition partners and Congress to protect access to CRT accessories. Effective January 1, 2016 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that it will apply competitive bid pricing to CRT accessories. CRT accessories are what make the underlying product useable and beneficial to people with progressed disabilities—they include tilt-in-space, head support and trunk support systems as well as hand control interfaces like joysticks. Under the new pricing, payment rates for 171 wheelchair accessory codes will be inappropriately reduced from 20% to over 40%.
 
If not rescinded, this new pricing will likely impede access to CRT accessories and systems, hurting Medicare beneficiaries with significant disabilities, including people living with more progressed MS. The Society has been urging CMS to rescind this dangerous policy and is supportive of legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 3229) by Rep. Zeldin (NY-1) and the U.S. Senate (S. 2196) by Sens. Casey (PA), Portman (OH), Schumer (NY) and Cochran (MS) that will prevent these cuts form happening. These bills both provide a legislative correction to clarify that CMS cannot apply Medicare competitive bidding pricing to accessories used with complex rehabilitation wheelchairs.
 
To learn more about complex rehabilitation technology and the accessories, such as safety belts, please visit the Society website.
 

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

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