United Spinal Association

From our mission to our financials
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Our mission is to improve the quality of life of all people living with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D). More
Our leaders are dedicated to advancing the organization's principles and goals and to achieving the highest level of service to the spinal cord injury community. More
History and Quick Facts
Formed by paralyzed veterans, United Spinal has been serving the SCI community since 1948. More
United Spinal Annual Report. Read the report
United Spinal Financial Statement. View the statement

Services and Outreach

What we do at United Spinal
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United Spinal's services enable people living with SCI/D to pursue rewarding lives and careers.
Ask Us
Our Ask Us program gives members and the public an opportunity to obtain one-on-one information and guidance.
Spinal Cord Injury and Disease. More
Veterans Benefits. More
Wheelchairs & Assistive Technology. More
Veterans Assistance
United Spinal's VetsFirst assists disabled veterans and their families in obtaining the benefits that they are entitled to.More
Public Policy
Our Public Polciy staff are actively involved in advocating for laws and regulations that are beneficial to people with disabilities. More
Wheelchair Advocacy
United Spinal's UsersFirst and its following advocate for appropriate wheelchairs and equipment. More
National Support Groups
Our network of affiliated support groups provide peer-to-peer support to persons with SCI/disease, caregivers, and family members. More
Accessibility Services
Accessibility Services is a United Spinal program devoted exclusively to making our built environment accessible to people with disabilities. More

Membership & Resources

Membership & online resources
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Membership Division
National Spinal Cord Injury Association is the membership division of United Spinal Association. More
Hospital Membership. More
Business Members. More
Organizational Members. More
Informative Publications
United Spinal provides a diverse selection of educational and informative publications. More
Ongoing webinars on disability related topics of interest. More
Membership Magazine
Life in Action keeps our members informed and up to date on United Spinal and disability issues. More
United Spinal's New Mobility Magazine covers a diverse selection of contemporary topics that are of interest to wheelchair users. More
Assistive Technology Guide
United Spinal's TechGuide offers an online resource to wheelchairs, wheelchair reviews, and assistive technology sources. More
Accessible Travel
Able To Travel is our travel agency dedicated to accessible travel.More

A Separate Medicare Complex Rehabilitation Technology Benefit Is Needed

| March 4, 2013

About this issue


Complex rehab technology affects all people living with spinal cord injuries and disorders.

Although the term may not be familiar to everyone, “complex rehab technology”–or properly configured wheelchairs and other mobility equipment–is critical to our quality of life and independence. It keeps us moving. It allows us to do what we love. And most importantly, it enables us to take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way. Isn’t that what life’s all about? If you’re stuck at home with a cruddy wheelchair, that isn’t much of a life.

Complex rehab technology includes medically necessary individually configured manual and power wheelchair systems, adaptive seating systems, alternative positioning systems, and other mobility devices that require evaluation, fitting, design, adjustment and programming. This type of technology is designed to meet the specific and unique medical and functional needs of an individual living with disability.

Unfortunately, not everyone has access to it. But you can help change that!

In April 2012, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-7th NY) introduced HR 4378, a bill to establish a benefit to ensure that persons with spinal cord injuries and disorders will be able to get custom power wheelchairs, ultra lightweight wheelchairs and seating systems under the Medicare program. In March 2013, the bill was reintroduced as HR 942 by Rep. Joe Crowley (D-14th NY) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-5th WI) and in May 2013, the bill was introduced on the Senate side as S. 948 by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Thad Cochran (R-MS).

Medicare currently does not have unique coverage for the more complex equipment that so many of our members rely upon. We know that when a properly configured wheelchair and seating system is not available, bad things happen that greatly diminish a wheelchair user’s ability to be active, healthy and mobile in the community. HR 942/ S. 948 can help fix this issue.

Urge your elected officials to sign on to HR 942/S.948 to ensure access to the critical equipment that you or your loved one needs.

Issue timeline


3/11/2014: United Spinal’s Alex Bennewith presented at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Public Policy Conference on CRT.

12/02/2013: United Spinal, along with UsersFirst, helped organize the first Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Assistive Technology Congressional Briefing highlighting the House and Senate CRT bills as well as other assistive technology issues.

11/15/2013: Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) circulated a Dear Colleague letter on CRT requesting their colleagues in the Senate cosponsor the Senate bill, S. 948.

10/28/2013: United Spinal, along with other stakeholders – including Cheryl Sensenbrenner (AAPD Board Member) – met with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chair of the House Budget Committee and a member of the Ways & Means Committee to discuss CRT.

10/07/2013: United Spinal’s advocacy efforts throughout the month of September are going strong. United Spinal/Users First advocates have been instrumental in adding 5 new cosponsors to the House bill, HR 942: 80 cosponsors. The Senate bill, S. 948, now has 5 cosponsors.

9/13/13: National CRT Week was August 19-23, 2013 and United Spinal and UsersFirst worked with 34 states and the District of Columbia on CRT advocacy and getting people prepared for their scheduled Hill visits and willing to meet with their Congressional representatives. Advocates have been successful in adding 10 new Representatives to the House bill, HR 942: 75 cosponsors. On the Senate side, advocates have added two Senators to the Senate bill, S. 948: 4 cosponsors. Keep up the great work!

7/15/13: United Spinal’s President Paul J. Tobin spoke at a Congressional Briefing called “Enabling Independence for People with Disabilities: the Importance of Complex Rehab Technology”. He discussed the important role CRT plays in the lives of people with disabilities. Over 70 Congressional offices were present at the event. Thanks to our efforts, 59 representatives have signed on to the House bill and 3 sponsors on to the Senate bill (which was only just introduced in May).

5/14/13: Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) joined in a bipartisan introduction of the “Ensuring Access To Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act of 2013”.   The Senate bill number is S. 948.

4/15/13: United Spinal’s President Paul J. Tobin and UserFirst advocates met with over 220 elected officials in Washington, D.C. to call for greater access to complex rehab technology. Learn more.

4/14/13: Through extensive efforts by United Spinal and other advocacy groups, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) commits to introducing a companion bill in the Senate.

3/4/13: Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act (HR 942) was reintroduced by Joe Crowley (D-14th NY) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-5th WI).


Category: Featured, National Advocacy Issues, Public Policy, Take Action, Wheelchairs & Technology

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