October 2021
Each month "NCART News" delivers the latest Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) Medicare and Medicaid updates, advocacy opportunities, and event information all in one place.
Current Congressional Activity
It's a busy time in Congress, with much of the work relating to reaching agreements for Budget Reconciliation and Infrastructure bills. For the CRT industry, our focus is on the December 3 deadline for a must-pass government funding bill that is a possible legislative vehicle for provider relief as well as telehealth legislation. These issues were both communicated to Congressional offices last month by CRT advocates participating in the 2021 CRT Virtual Congressional Fly-In. To read more about the CRT requests to Congress, read our “asks” summary here

CRT providers and manufacturers are also tracking the Medicare Sequestration Moratorium that is set to expire at the end of 2021; the final DME Payment Rule from CMS which is expected to solidify 50/50 blended Medicare rates for rural areas and hopefully extend the 75/25 blended rates for non-bid, non-rural areas as well; and legislation to provide additional relief for those providers whose reimbursement is tied to fixed fee schedules. 

To hear the full Congressional update on these matters, click here to listen to the CRT Industry Webinar held on October 28. For other questions, click the button below to send an email to NCART.
Power Seat Elevation and Standing Systems Update
Our work continues with the ITEM Coalition to secure Medicare coverage for Seat Elevation and Standing Systems used with Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) power wheelchairs.

As reported earlier this month Representatives Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Don Young (R-AK), along with 75 of their House colleagues, submitted a letter to CMS on October 6 encouraging leadership to prioritize the coverage request and proceed to the next step in the review process. You can read the letter here.

We’re also pleased to report that on October 14 Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) submitted a bipartisan Senate letter to CMS regarding this issue as well. She was joined by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). The letter contained a very direct request to not only move forward in the review process, but to approve the application for Medicare coverage. You can read the letter here.

The review process began in September 2020 with the submission of the formal request for Medicare coverage. The next step was completed in November 2020 when the application was accepted "as complete". Unfortunately, although ongoing conversations have taken place, CMS’ review has not formally progressed. Sincere thanks go to each of these Congressional Champions for taking action to move things forward to address the technology needs of people with disabilities.

The next step is CMS formally announcing the reopening of the related National Coverage Determination (NCD) and commencing a 30-day public comment period. This will be the opportunity for CRT stakeholders to express their support for coverage. We will continue to work with CMS to move ahead in this process and will provide updates.
CRT Telehealth Update
Discussions indicate the likelihood that Congress will be passing legislation later this year regarding certain telehealth expansions that have been temporarily in place during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE). The good news is the PHE declaration has been extended through late January 2022 (and could be extended further) so current policies will remain in effect until at least that date.

When it comes to CRT, the fact is some Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities have only been able to access CRT during the COVID-19 pandemic because of the telehealth flexibilities put in place by Congress and CMS. Unfortunately, when the PHE ends the ability for certain Medicare beneficiaries to access needed CRT via telehealth will also end unless Congress acts.

Our message to Congress is simple. The temporary CRT telehealth option must be made permanent so that Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities, many of whom have multiple co-morbidities, can continue to have remote access to CRT evaluations, fittings, and training when an in-person visit is not possible due to medical risks, transportation barriers, lack of local qualified clinicians, and other factors.
Rather than allowing these proven flexibilities to expire and cause harm to Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities, Congress must take legislative action to make these CRT telehealth policies permanent. Visit www.protectmymobility.org to send a message to your Members asking for their support.
NCART Board Begins 2022 Planning
This month our Board of Directors met to begin discussing plans for NCART and CRT advocacy in 2022. From increased operating costs, supply chain issues, and ongoing impacts of COVID-19 to the need for improved policies that recognize the unique nature of CRT, there is much to be done.

Our continued federal and state advocacy will be critical to protecting CRT manufacturers and providers’ ability to supply quality products and timely service to individuals with disabilities. We will be sharing more in coming months and look forward to working together on priority initiatives in the year ahead.

NCART's Board of Directors have a wealth of experience and are dedicated to protecting and promoting the individual's right to CRT. These industry leaders represent CRT suppliers and manufacturers from across the country. We are thankful for their direction and support of our work to protect access to CRT for people with disabilities.
October CRT Industry Webinar Recording
Autumn has been a very busy season in the Complex Rehab Technology community. On October 28 NCART, NRRTS, US Rehab, and the Clinician Task Force hosted another no-cost, information-packed webinar. These sessions provide important updates about policy, advocacy, legislation, and more to anyone involved in CRT. Click on the video to watch the recording of that presentation and stay up-to-date on all the latest details.
CRT Outcomes Data
An important part of the CRT access advocacy message is communicating the benefits that result from the timely and professional provision of quality products and supporting services. We need to be able to share this information with Members of Congress, policymakers, and payer organizations.

To provide needed outcomes data VGM/U.S. Rehab, in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, has been leading the Functional Mobility Assessment (FMA) Outcomes Program. This system is designed to collect information that illustrates increased function and safety for individuals with disabilities and fiscal savings for the healthcare system resulting from the proper provision of CRT.

We encourage providers, manufacturers, and clinicians to become familiar with this program or other options available to assist the CRT Community in gathering needed outcome information.
Thank You Physical and Occupational Therapists
October is Physical Therapy Month and we are celebrating all of the outstanding PTs who work with individuals who use Complex Rehab Technology. October 27 was also World Occupational Therapy Day recognizing dedicated OTs. These medical professionals are a critical part of the CRT team who not only provide their expertise during the evaluation process, but also help individuals with disabilities maximize their independence in day-to-day activities. Thank you Physical and Occupational Therapists for all you do! 
State CRT Work in September
NCART continues its work on state-level matters that impact access to CRT. If you are currently dealing with a CRT issue that we can help with, please send us an email using the button below. Here are the highlights from our October work:
  • California- NCART continues to work with the Department regarding CRT legislation that was passed in July; target implementation target date is January 1.
  • Ohio- an NCART provider workgroup met to summarize concerns relating to specialty CRT items; discussions are ongoing with NCART and OAMES; a meeting with the Department has been scheduled.
  • Michigan- CRT legislation (SB 499/SB 500) passed out of Senate Committee; a provider workgroup held discussions regarding CRT access concerns; a meeting with the Department has been requested.
  • Utah- an NCART provider workgroup held discussions regarding ongoing work and next steps in addressing CRT access concerns; a meeting with the Department has been requested.
  • West Virginia- an NCART provider workgroup including members of the Clinician Task Force met to discuss policy concerns impacting access to CRT; plans for outreach to the Department are being developed.
NCART Welcomes Another New Member
We are growing again this year and are happy to announce the addition of CareLinc Medical to our CRT Supplier Member roster. From multiple locations in Michigan, CareLinc Medical has been providing products and services to meet the CRT needs of their communities for over 20 years. We are thankful for their support and proud to have them joining NCART’s efforts to educate and advocate for CRT access. 

If your company provides or manufactures CRT, join NCART to help us fight the negative trends in coverage and payment. Your support will enable us to continue to advocate aggressively on your behalf as we work to maintain and establish policies needed to ensure people with significant disabilities and chronic medical conditions can access the specialized equipment and services they require and you provide. Learn more by clicking the button below.
CRT Event Calendar
NCART welcomes opportunities to support the CRT community by participating in events that promote education and advocacy. Here are some of the events that we're proud to help publicize:

Monthly Motivation
No Tricks, Just Treats!
In Cincinnati, the Be.Well program partners with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and others to keep kids with physical disabilities active outdoors to promote their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Around Halloween, they host a costumed hike at a local nature center where participants can claim prizes and enjoy the fresh October air. Visit their website to learn more about their year-round activities and watch the video below to see the great costumes from last year’s Halloween hike! 

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