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    Call To Action: Advocate for Medicare Coverage of Wheelchairs

    The problem: Right now, Medicare is looking to put wheelchairs and other CRT into competitive bidding which just doesn’t work when we need very unique and customized chairs. For example, Medicare categorizes all the “accessories” under the same code, even though they’re very different. For example, people need very different headrests. Some people just need a basic headrest that allows the to put their head back and have support. Others need much more complex headrests with straps, cushions, and other supports. The costs between the two are significantly different, but the code “headrest” doesn’t allow the supplier to get reimbursed fairly for the more complex headrest. Therefore, under competitive bidding, the supplier wouldn’t get paid for a complex headrest, so they won’t be able to supply it.

    What you can do to help: Email Representative Nancy’s  Pelosi’s office at : Wendell.Primus@mail.houose.gov  by Tuesday, November 9 to share your story of the importance of complex rehab technology in your life.

    Please also bcc Stephanie Woodward  of the Center for Disability Rights  on your email. Her email is: stephaniewoodward426@gmail.com .

    Here are some points to include in your email:

    ·        Support passage of HR 3229 / S.2196 to protect access to complex rehab wheelchair accessories.

    ·        Complex Rehabilitation Technology (CRT) are medically necessary, individually configured products such as certain manual and power wheelchairs, adaptive seating systems and alternative positioning systems that keep people with significant disabilities such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis (MS) and muscular dystrophy healthy and independent.

    ·        CRT accounts for less than ten percent of Medicare’s wheelchair expenditures.

    ·        For this small population with such progressed disability, these products cannot be utilized and are not beneficial unless they have essential components—coined “accessories”—such as head support systems, specialized seating systems, sip and puff interfaces or tilt-and-recline features.

    ·        Complex rehab technology helps me remain active and independent which provides a better quality of life, while saving the government money.

    ·        We heard that HR 3229 / S.2196 will be considered when Congress returns in November.  This legislation must pass by January 1 to avoid significant access issues for those who need specialized CRT wheelchairs.

    Bellow are some sample letters you can free to customize for your use:

    Sample 1:

    Hello, my name is XXX and I live in XX I’m also a person with a  disability that requires the use ofcomplex rehab technology. I am writing to ask Rep. Pelosi to support the passage of HR 3229 / S.2196.

    I am concerned about the possibility of competitive bidding for wheelchairs and complex rehab technology. I use a wheelchair that is custom designed for me–my headrest is not just any typical ‘accessory’ even though it might be coded the same as a standard headrest.

    Every part of my wheelchair is a part of my body. Customization of my wheelchair prevents injuries and healthcare costs. I hope that this bill will pass so that people with disabilities like myself will not have any issues accessing this equipment that is essential for our quality of life and ability to participate in society.

    Sample 2:

    Dear Senator Wyden and staff:

    I’m writing to urge you to support HR 3229 / S.2196 to prevent undue barriers to medically necessary and vital to complex rehab technologies which includes seating systems, articulating positioning systems and power wheelchairs. I have spastic Cerebral Palsy with complicating conditions and have needed complex rehab medical positioning products since age 4. However, at the age of 25 with the same needs, I’ve experienced extreme delays and repeated denials, some resulting in going more than a year without ideal mobility and health supports due to denial of my positioning equipment.
    Due to this, I’ve been hospitalized twice with respiratory illness and needing pain medication and muscle relaxants to keep comfortable. When I finally won appeal, all those issues went away with one simple device categorized under the complex rehab umbrella.
    That is why I’m so concerned about further limiting access by not passing
    HR 3229 / S.2196 before the first of the year/ These simple devices are often the difference between health and undue bodily harm and indeed, life and death.
    I hope I can count on you to vote to support for health and well being of your constituents by making sure this passes with all due swiftness.
    Thank you,
    Sample 3:
    Dear Senator Wyden,
    My name is XXXXXXXXXXX. I am a 45 year old working adult with spinal muscular atrophy. I work at The City or Portland writing and implementing policy including emergency response and evacuation plans for disaster mitigation. I am good at what I do and I am not easily replaced but I can not continue to contribute to this city and our great state if i do not have the durable medical equipment I need. I rely on my wheelchair as much as you rely on your own arms and legs.
    Sadly so much of what holds me back with my disability is not the disability itself but the lack of accessibility in the physical environment of Portland. For example with out a CRT equipment installed on my wheelchair I can not reach elevator buttons or copy machines. I can not tilt my care for a much need back stretch or to relieve a pressure spot that if left to develop might require hospitalization and my having to leave work.
    While insurance coins these items accessories I see them as appendages…would you not allow someone with an amputation access to a prothetic?
    And I am not alone. As you already know we are not doing a very good job in our State creating jobs for people with disabilities. Most of the folks i can name off the top of my head who are able to work use wheelchairs. This supplemental equipment makes an enormous impact on both there ability to work in less then accessable work environments ad well as improves there general quality of life. If you would like me to arrange a meeting with a group of people who would be most effected by this bill I am happy to do that.
    I urge you to support passage of HR 3229 / S.2196 to protect access to complex rehab wheelchair accessories. This legislation must pass by January 1 to avoid significant access issues for those who need specialized CRT wheelchairs.
    Please feel free to contact me about this matter if I can be any further help in making it a priority.
    Thank you for your advocacy on this important issue!

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