A new rule regarding complex rehabilitation technology (CRT) wheelchair accessories and seating, which will go into effect on January 1, 2016, could negatively affect Medicare recipients who depend on those products, power wheelchair manufacturer Permobil warns in a media release.

The final rule—CMS 1614 F—which has been issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will impose lower prices for CRT accessories and seating that were excluded by Congress in 2008.

As a result, Medicare recipients who depend on these products may have a much harder time getting what they need, the release explains.

As part of the implementation of competitive bidding for durable medical equipment, mandated by the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, CMS is required to use data collected from the bidding program to adjust payment rates for associated items effective January of 2016. However, in 2008, Congress passed a subsequent piece of legislation, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA), which specifically exempted CRT items from being part of the competitive bidding program.

Yet, even though MIPPA excluded CRT items from competitive bidding, CMS intends to implement cuts of up to 30% on the payment rates for CRT accessories and seating systems. As a result, user access to these items will be reduced, if not eliminated; and, the out-of-pocket costs will go up, the release explains.

In response to the rule, 101 members of the US House of Representatives submitted a request to CMS, followed by 23 members of the US Senate, asking CMS to not implement the payment cuts for CRT accessories and seating systems. Further, all of the major user associations – including the United Spinal Association, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the MS Society, the Christopher & Dana Reeves Foundation and the ITEM Coalition – have come out in opposition to the proposed cuts, the release continues.

“Life as an independent person with mobility issues will become significantly harder if this rule is not stopped, says Jenny Border, a disability advocate and Medicare recipient, in the release. “These items are not a luxury, and people need them to live their daily lives.”

“If Medicare moves forward with this rule, the severely disabled who depend on these products will see their health and independence jeopardized,” states Permobil President and CEO Larry Jackson, in the release.

“We strongly urge CMS and the Administration to rescind this rule to protect our country’s most vulnerable,” he adds.

[Source: Permobil]