Medicare Coverage for Wheelchair Components is Safe for 2016
Sen. Corker, R-Tenn., meets with Teal Sherer and Robbin Sinatra at a Roll on Capitol Hill. Legislative visits like this are crucial for elected officials to understand what wheelchair users need.
Medicare coverage for wheelchair components such as seat and back cushions is safe for another year thanks to a lightning-quick act that was introduced into Congress yesterday, Dec. 17, and passed today, Dec. 18. “The average time for a bill to pass is seven years, says Alexandra Bennewith, vice president government relations for United Spinal Association. “This shows that advocacy does work. It hard, it not easy, you have to be persistent and committed like crazy, but it works.
The Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act was expedited through the Senate using what is called the “hot line process, meaning each senator had 24 hours to object and if there were no objections then it automatically passed. “United Spinal activated many advocacy groups over the course of a year and this week it got down to the wire, but finally yesterday late afternoon Sen. Portman and others introduced the act. It went so quickly. We were pushing, making sure everyone questions were answered so they wouldn’t object and it passed in the Senate today, says Bennewith. “We had already set it up so Speaker Ryan and others on the House side were ready to just accept it once it passed the Senate, and then it passed in the House in a matter of minutes.
In addition to Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the bipartisan bill was sponsored by Robert Casey, D-Pa., Richard Burr, R-N.C., Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., accepted it once it passed the Senate. It was the last piece of business Congress voted on before adjourning for the year.
“Our voice is strong and our voice was heard, says Bennewith, about the importance of advocacy in getting this law introduced and passed in just one day. “If you don’t say what you’re concerned about, people don’t know. This law is critical for our members because it helps folks get the access to customized wheelchair components that they otherwise may not be able to get.