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W&M, E&C Leaders Praise Trump Administration’s Action to Protect Access for Medicare Beneficiaries with Significant Disabilities

June 26, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Pat Tiberi (R-OH), along with Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael Burgess (R-TX), today released the following statement after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new guidance on Friday protecting access to Complex Rehabilitation Technology (CRT), such as specialized wheelchair accessories, for Medicare beneficiaries with significant disabilities. The guidance comes just days before the July 1st deadline to reevaluate how the fee schedule payments for CRT would be treated under the Medicare program – and just days before potential spending cuts to CRT providers and, ultimately, patients.

“Congress has worked for years to reverse a misguided policy that violated congressional intent and jeopardized access to specific medical innovations that so many patients rely on in their daily lives,” the Chairmen said. “After bipartisan short-term fixes to this problem, we are grateful to have a willing partner in the Trump Administration, which took swift action to right this wrong and prevent Medicare cuts from ever happening for these devices in the future. This is a big win for disabled patients and their caregivers, who need these critically important products so they can live their lives to the fullest.” 

Congress had statutorily excluded certain complex rehabilitative power wheelchairs and their accessories from competitive bidding pricing – which could lead to decreased support from the Medicare program – because these specialized products are so different from standard wheelchairs and accessories. Unfortunately, in 2014, CMS reinterpreted their application of this prohibition to apply competitive bidding to these products.

Congress acted in December 2015 to prohibit the Secretary from using information from the competitive bidding program to adjust the fee schedule payments for accessories furnished in conjunction with this group of complex rehabilitative power wheelchairs prior to January 1, 2017. This legislation was passed by unanimous consent by the House and Senate. Congress acted once again in the 21st Century Cures Act, pushing the cuts back to July 1, 2017. Congress had asked the Administration to reevaluate this policy before the July 1st deadline.