In early June, I attended United Spinal’s Roll on Capitol Hill, a three day conference in D.C. where people with spinal cord disabilities learn about the most current policy issues and advocate with Congress to make positive changes. Because of the pandemic, this was the first time the Roll in Capitol Hill was held in person in over two years. It felt really great to be back. There were many familiar faces and lots of new ones too, which was wonderful for connecting with each other and advocating on Capitol Hill. While we there, were many policy issues that impact wheelchair users. Here are three that I really felt compelled to focus on.
Coverage for Seat Elevation and Standing Devices
First, we’re urging Congress to make sure that CMS holds to its commitment of opening the National Coverage Decision for wheelchair seat elevation and standing device coverage no later than August. Both seat elevation and standing are critical wheelchair features to enable wheelchair users to have their medical necessity and functional mobility needs met, both in the home and in the community. CMS has been telling the community that they would hold a National Coverage Decision on this issue for years, but they still have not. Most recently, CMS said they would do this in August of 2022 and we want to make sure that CMS stays true to their word!
Passing New Legislation for Air Carrier Access
We’re asking members of Congress to co-sponsor and pass S. 642/H.R. 1696, the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act of 2021. This bill was introduced by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI-2). It provides consumer protections and assistance in air travel for passengers with disabilities.
Removing the “In the Home” Rule
We want to eliminate the unnecessary and restrictive “in the home” rule from Medicare. Currently, Medicare will only cover the cost of medical equipment that it deems necessary for a person “in the home.” This means that if a person needs a wheelchair with features that will help them in the community, Medicare does not believe these features are necessary and don’t fall under “in the home.” So, Medicare does not cover them. For example, if a manual wheelchair user needs an ultra lightweight manual wheelchair to be able to lift it in and out of their car to get to work, Medicare may deny them coverage because they do not need an ultra lightweight wheelchair “in the home.” Even though the person clearly needs it for very functional reasons (to get to work), because they do not need it “in the home,” it would be denied.
About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador advisor for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.
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