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Advocacy Issue Details

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.

Click here to view examples of Standard vs. Complex Rehab Technology Manual and Power Wheelchairs

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 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). In March 2015, Representatives Sensenbrenner and Crowley reintroduced the legislation, now known as H.R. 1516 and in April 2015, Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced the Senate bill, S. 1013.

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.

Urge your elected officials to sign on to HR 1516/S.1013 to ensure access to the critical equipment that you or your loved one needs.

View a list of Representatives and Senators signed on to H.R. 1516/ S. 1013.

Overview of CRT from United Spinal’s 2014 Roll on Capitol Hill

Advocacy Issue Updates

7/27/2015: HR 3229 was introduced by Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York which protects complex rehab accessories from Medicare’s competitive bidding program. United Spinal supports HR 3229.

7/20/2015: United Spinal Association, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology co-hosted a Congressional CRT Expo which was attended by 60 House and Senate offices to advocate for improved coverage for customized wheelchair technology and complex accessories

04/20/2015: S. 1013, Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act was reintroduced by Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY).03/19/2015 HR 1516, Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act was reintroduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI-5th) and Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY 14th).

03/12/2015 Rep. Joe Crowley, D-NY 14th met with United Spinal leadership, board members and staff at United Spinal NY Headquarters to discuss reintroduction of the Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act.

8/18-8/24/2014: National CRT Week

7/30/2014: United Spinal and CRT Steering Committee members met with CRT legislative sponsors to discuss legislative strategy for the CRT bill for the rest of the year into 2015.

6/22-25/2014: United Spinal’s 3rd Annual Roll on Capitol Hill where over 100 advocates from 26 states, including Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia made over 200 Congressional Hill visits to discuss CRT and other issues.

5/23/2014: United Spinal and CRT Steering Committee Members met with Senate Finance Committee members to discuss legislative strategy of the CRT bill.United Spinal and CRT Steering Committee Members met with Senate Finance Committee members to discuss legislative strategy of the CRT bill.

4/29-5/1-2014: United Spinal advocates at the National CRT Conference with the National Coalition for Assistive Rehab Technology and National Registry for Rehabilitation Technology Suppliers on CRT in Washington, DC.

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 Firstadvocates 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).