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Please sign and share the petition to stop inappropriate cuts to wheelchair accessories?

We the People CRT WH petition logoJust a few seconds of your time can make a difference to people who use complex wheelchair accessories. If the petition receives over 100,000 signatures in the next month, it will head to the desk of Pres. Obama. Please take the time today to sign the White House petition. Ask your friends and family to sign the petition and share on social media.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/stop-medicare-making-inappropriate-cuts-complex-wheelchair-accessories

Technology and Social Media is Changing Congress

By Collin Brecher, VGM Government Relations

The success of independent suppliers of the DMEPOS industry across the nation seems to be completely at will to the decisions of CMS and the government. It is very easy for a provider to feel helpless and ask, “I am just one business, what could I possibly do to change the path that the industry is going down?” The answer to that question is simple, contacting elected officials at any level in government is one of the most beneficial things you, as a provider, could do.

One of the most common responses that the Government Relations team gets at the federal level is “I am not hearing from providers and beneficiaries what challenges they are facing.” This is a very winnable battle, whether it be an email, phone call, or contact through social media. Elected officials WANT to hear from their constituents and business owners which means providers stand to gain a lot of ground when contacting a Congressman or Senator. Here are the three key points to contacting your elected officials.

HOW: With advances in technology and the sweeping changes that social media has brought to Capitol Hill, accessing your elected officials is easier than ever. Nearly every member of Congress has social media accounts like Twitter or Facebook. Sending them a tweet or post on Facebook only takes a few moments and is a great way to get the conversation started about concerns of your business. These posts are a great stepping stone to begin sending emails, or a letter directly to your member of Congress and starting a dialogue with them.

WHAT: Members of Congress are representing hundreds of thousands of citizens from their respective states. This is a big reason it is easy to feel lost in such a large crowd of people. Fear not, your voice can still easily be heard. Your Congressman may be more accessible than you might think. Townhall meetings and events happen all over the state at times like Congress’s August Recess, when members of Congress have an entire month dedicated to being back home. The main purpose of the month long break is for officials to hear the concerns of everyday citizens. This is a great time to meet with them in person. Congressmen also have staff members specialized in the healthcare industry that are just as beneficial to beginning that crucial dialogue.  Asking for a few minutes of time with a staff member of your member of congress and bringing in concise and direct bullet points of what issues you face goes a long way.

WHY: Contacting your Congressman and Senator is greatly influential and you stand to gain a great relationship with them. A study from the Congressional Management Foundation found that “64% of the senior managers and social media managers surveyed think Facebook is a somewhat or very important tool for understand constituent views and opinions.” Contacting through Twitter was not far behind at just under 50%. What these posts and tweets can lead to is the best contact of all, a face to face meeting with the Congressman or his trusted staff. One of the greatest successes that is common to see is congressional offices relying on the input of providers how different bills could affect their business.

All that it takes to build that relationship is to reach out and start the dialogue. The VGM Government Relations team is more than happy to assist you in contacting your members of Congress and coordinating a meeting with them. If you are planning on attending the 2015 Heartland Conference please stop by the Government Relations booth and start the dialogue during our “August of Action.”

Introducing H.R. 1516 “Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act”

The bill language is the same as last year’s CRT legislation with one important addition. H.R. 1516 includes a new provision that will allow all CRT codes to be billable as a “purchase” rather than subject to “capped rental” treatment. This recognizes the individualized nature of CRT items and that they are supplied to meet permanent, not short-term, needs.

At the time of re-introduction Congressman Sensenbrenner stated: “As a leader in the fight for the rights of the disabled, I want to ensure all Americans have access to the tools needed to live each day to the fullest. Americans with disabilities should not be denied rehabilitation or medical equipment that can enable them to live and work freely and independently. With increased flexibility and proper oversight, we can help those in need while inhibiting fraud and abuse.”

Congressman Crowley added his comments: “Complex rehabilitation technology products can make a world of difference for people with severe disabilities and other medical conditions, and our legislation will remove barriers to getting these wheelchairs and other services to those who need them to lead a more independent life. I look forward to advancing this legislation that recognizes the importance of maintaining access to these products, as well as puts in place much-needed quality standards and consumer protections that strengthen the Medicare program for individuals, clinicians and suppliers.”

We are expecting the re-introduction of the companion bill by Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in the near future.

Also, Muscular Dystrophy Association has officially pledged their support for the CRT legislation.

We hope you will reach out to your members of Congress seeking support of these bills.

Protect Access to Specialized Wheelchair Accessories

A Special Message from U.S. Rehab and NCART
CMS has announced that it intends to apply competitive bid pricing to wheelchair accessories used on complex rehab wheelchairs effective January 1, 2016. This will result in payment cuts of 20% to 50% and cause major decreases in the availability (or outright elimination) of individually configured wheelchair systems that people with disabilities rely on.

Representatives need to hear from people in their home districts that this is a problem that needs fixing. NCART has developed a website to provide information (including the Position Paper and copy of the letter) along with tools to assist you in getting your Representative to sign on to the bipartisan letter to CMS.

Please take action today! Go to http://cqrcengage.com/access2crt/CBpricing to email, call or tweet your house representative.