A new rule that is set to go into effect on January 1, 2016 will cut payments for complex rehabilitation technology and make it more difficult for many disabled people to get access to the wheelchairs and accessories they need.
The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 required the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to use data collected from the collective bidding program to adjust payment rates for certain items in January 2016. In 2008, Congress passed the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) that exempted complex rehabilitation technology from the competitive bidding program.
CMS has adopted final rule CMS 1614F that will impose lower prices for CRT accessories and seating that were excluded by MIPPA starting on January 1. The payment rates could be cut by up to 30 percent. This would raise out-of-pocket costs and reduce or eliminate access to these items.
In response to the rule, over 100 senators and representatives have signed a letter to CMS asking it not to cut payments for CRT accessories and seating systems. Major user associations, including the United Spinal Association, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the MS Society, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, and the ITEM Coalition, have also expressed their opposition to the proposed cuts. Reps. Joseph Crowley and James Sensenbrenner Jr. have introduced the Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act that would create a separate Medicare benefit category for CRT.
If CMS implements these cuts, people who rely on CRT may find it difficult or impossible to obtain the products they need to live independent lives. We urge CMS to reconsider its position and to continue to exclude CRT from competitive bidding as it has been since 2008.