Author Archives: Access2CRT Blogger

Top Ways That You Can Stay On Top Of Your Congress Member

Staying in touch with your congressional representative is crucial if you want your voice heard and your views to be known.  Finding ways to get a hold of your representative can be tricky because of their busy schedules and all of the other people who want to discuss matters with them.  At NCART, we wanted to share some simple ways that you can take part in the debate with your member of Congress and make a change!

Resistbot

By using this technology, your texts are turned into faxes to your representative by the service.  Overtime, you’ll unlock more uses of Resistbot to become a more influential advocate.

Email

Email is the fastest, most popular way to get in touch, but so many people use this platform that it is important to make your views stand out by being innovative, factual, and to the point.  You can also look online for forms that your member of Congress may provide for you to send a message to them.

Countable

This service seeks to give you a greater voice in politics.  Countable gives you a simple and short overview of the bills your representatives are debating.  Then it lets you send emails to them describing how you feel about the issue and how they should vote.

ThinkUp

This tool is used as a way to gauge popular sentiment through social media.  ThinkUp shows social media analytics so government officials can learn more about their followers.  By liking your representative’s social media posts over certain topics, they will be able to go in and see what is most popular so your voice is heard.

Advocacy Groups

Apart from spending money to lobby, many advocacy groups have created networks in order to have connections with members of Congress.  Advocacy groups do research over main pieces of legislation and know who is on which committees.  By knowing this, they will be able to organize meetings, phone trees, and small campaigns, so if you stay involved with a group, you will have more immediate access to your Congress person.

By using these diverse tools and strategies, you will be able to successfully get your views across when contacting your Congress person.  At NCART, we believe these different tactics can help you can make the difference you’ve been wanting!

 

How an Accessible Playground Improves Your Community

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Playgrounds can provide more than just a break from class. They offer the chance to build friendships, develop teamwork, and create joyful memories. At NCART, we believe that every child, no matter their physical restrictions, should have the chance to enjoy the benefits every recess brings. Find out how accessible playgrounds can benefit your community and how you can help ensure that no child gets left behind.

Why do we need accessible playgrounds?

For children affected by spinal and nerve diseases, playgrounds provide potential problems. Loose rocks covering the ground makes it impossible to maneuver crutches and wheelchairs. Swings do not provide additional back support and can cause potential danger from falling. Jungle gym equipment is narrow and steps hinder children with disabilities. Due to this, playgrounds are no longer safe and fun but provide potential risk of injury.

How can an accessible playground benefit my community?

For parents of children with special needs, the start of school brings additional concern. Since many schools do not have accessible playgrounds, they not only worry about injury, but about their child being left out of the group. By incorporating an accessible playground, you are procuring inclusion for all children as well as installing the belief of teamwork in your community. Ensuring that everyone feels welcome in your neighborhood can strengthen the ties of your town.

How can I help build an accessible playground?

Getting an accessible playground built can seem like an overwhelming endeavor. To ease this concern, start by forming a committee within your community. Make sure to include individuals that can further help your cause such as lawyers, accountants, caregivers, and construction project managers. Speak with local businesses to expand your team. Create a separate committee for fundraising and keep your community involved throughout the process. Once you have your team, start planning tactics to raise awareness of your efforts. Continue to partner with companies across the state to aid in your fundraising events. Doing so will help spread out your workload and ensure maximum exposure. For more information on starting an accessible playground visit www.unlimitedplay.org to find out the steps you can take to help make your community stronger.

Accessible playgrounds are just one way to ensure that children with special needs are included in their community. At NCART, our members help make these ideas possible. Learn more on how your business can become a member today and the benefits our team can provide.

3 Ways to Show Support for Loved Ones with Spina Bifida

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This past October was National Spina Bifida Month, recognizing the 1,500 babies born each year with Spina Bifida. The leading neural tube defect in the United States, an estimated 166,000 people are affected with this condition each day. However, at NCART, we know that individuals with Spina Bifida have long demonstrated the strength and resilience required to conquer the world. By showing your support, you can provide additional help to spread awareness and assistance year-round.

What is Spina Bifida?

The most common permanently disabling birth defect in the United States, Spina Bifida literally means ‘split spine’. It occurs when a baby is in the womb and the spinal column does not close all the way. Scientists have not determined the cause of the defect, however, they believe that genetic and environmental factors act together to cause the condition.

How You Can Help

  • Become a respite provider

For families with Spina Bifida, there is little time to rest. Specialized doctors’ visits must be scheduled months in advance and usually require a full day of dedication. Equipment that provides assistance such as braces, crutches, and wheelchairs must be maintained to ensure that they are in proper working order. Respite providers give temporary relief care to aid in these responsibilities. They also provide support so that family caregivers can accomplish their day-to-day tasks.  Learn more about becoming a respite provider and the lasting difference you can make in a families’ life.

 

  • Volunteer at an adaptive sports camp.

For individuals with Spina Bifida, life does not slow down. Each year, adaptive sports camps offer the chance to show off their athletic prowess, determination, and spirit. From archery and skiing to rafting and kayaking, there is literally no boundaries to what individuals with Spina Bifida can accomplish. By volunteering at an adaptive sports camp, you are aiding in asserting their independence and health as well as creating new lifelong friendships. To get involved, visit http://www.disabledsportsusa.org/ and find out how you can help this important program.

 

  • Participate in a Walk-N-Roll.

Each year, funds are raised to support local community programs and services for those affected by Spina Bifida through family-friendly Walk-N-Roll events. These non-competitive one mile walks include educational resource fairs and are free of charge for the public. Find out when a Walk-N-Roll will hit your town and get involved today.

Families that are affected by Spina Bifida face challenges each day but, by offering support, you can make a difference. At NCART, we strive to ensure that all people with disabilities get the care they require. That’s why we are working to stop Medicare cuts threatening specialized wheelchair systems needed by family with spinal cord injuries. Help our mission by emailing your Members of Congress today to ask for their support.

Why CRT Needs to Be a Separate Category

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When it comes to healthcare, the last thing most people think of are billing categories.  Unfortunately, something as mundane as a billing category could be the deciding factor in obtaining appropriate equipment for those who use complex rehab technology (CRT). Currently, CRT is categorized in Medicare under the heading of “durable medical equipment”, or DME. Here’s why that’s a problem:

  • This category was originally created for an elderly population.

 

The designation of DME was first established in the 1960s to cover the type of equipment used by people as they advance in age—such as walkers, wheelchairs and bath safety equipment. CRT users are enrolled in the Medicare program not because of their age, but because of chronic and complex disabilities. Furthermore, their equipment is far more advanced technologically than what is typically used by an elderly patient. The conditions that apply to individuals utilizing CRT every day are not the same for DME users.

 

  • Obtaining CRT equipment is much more involved than obtaining DME

 

Typically, an elderly patient receives their DME products after a trip to the doctor and a trip to the DME supplier. Someone who uses CRT, however, must have carefully documented trips to the doctor, physical therapist or occupational therapist, an assistive technology professional (ATP), and a CRT provider. Additionally, the complexity of the equipment means the user will need ongoing training, support, and maintenance.

 

  • Medicare has more requirements for CRT

 

Obtaining DME is often as simple as visiting a medical equipment supplier with a doctor’s order in hand and leaving with equipment that same day.  There are far more requirements a person must go through to obtain CRT. Complex Rehab Technology is provided through an interdisciplinary team consisting of, at a minimum, a physician, a physical therapist or occupational therapist, and credentialed personnel from an accredited Complex Rehab Technology company.  The process of assessing, measuring, ordering, building, delivering, fitting, modifying, and training often takes three months or more.

 

  • Congress has changed other categories before

 

What we’re asking for is nothing new. In the past, Congress has recognized that other special medical needs don’t fall under the DME category. Orthotics and Prosthetics is one such example. It has its own separate set of rules for standards, accreditation and billing categories. We’re asking the same thing be done for CRT users.

 

Help NCART convince Congress that these changes need to be made.  Make a phone call to your Congressional representatives, write letters and emails to them, or the next time your representative gives a town hall meeting in your city attend it and speak up about CRT needs. Encourage your friends and family to do the same.  Together, we can make a difference!

Celebrate National Rehab Week by Advocating for Those Who Use Complex Rehab Technology

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The week of September 18-24 marks National Rehab Week, and NCART urges you to celebrate it by bringing attention to those who use Complex Rehab Technology. With your help, we can make sure that Washington hears the voices of those who most need this lifesaving equipment. Here are just a few ways you can do that:

Bring Attention to It at the Grassroots Level

Changes in our political landscape start at home. Those who are federal and state legislators now often start off as members of the city council or board of supervisors. Contact the mayor or board secretary and ask to be added to the next meeting’s agenda. Speak about the issues facing those who use CRT, and what problems the disabled community is facing on a locally. Don’t get discouraged if nothing happens right away. Often, you need to speak up regularly at local meetings before you start seeing change. Use the Tools for Telling the CRT Story on our website as a start.

Make Sure Your State Legislators Are Aware of the Issues

The next step is to contact your legislators at the state level. Many times, state-level coverage and funding dictate the availability of CRT products and supporting services. We’ve included links to the Medicaid policy in each state here. If you need help understanding what the issues are in your individual state, you can visit the Kaiser Family Foundation or contact NCART directly.

State legislators are usually more attentive than those at the federal level. Because they remain in the state where they are elected, they are more connected with their electoral base. Often, they will base their vote off of how many constituents they hear from on a given issue. Even if only one person speaks up to them, it will be enough to sway their vote!

Write to Your Federal Legislator

Just like with state legislators, a legislator at the federal level will sometimes vote according to what he or she hears from their constituents. Often, an overwhelming amount of letters on a given issue will be their deciding factor. The key is to keep letting our voices be heard! Like at the grassroots level, we need to be patient and continue to speak up until change happens.

At NCART, we are dedicated to helping those who use CRT have their voices heard and ensuring that they have access to the equipment they need. Join us this September 18-24 in celebrating National Rehab Week by kicking off grassroots, state and national efforts to make sure the CRT story is heard!

Problems with Cost Plus Payment in CRT

United States Coins.

United States Coins.

Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) products are specialized and customized to fit each individual’s needs. These products are provided to individuals with significant disabilities in order to address their medical and functional needs.

When determining the cost of CRT products, the cost of the product, cost of the service, delivery and support system must be recognized. The cost of the product itself is only about half of the actual cost of providing the equipment. CRT studies have found that for every dollar of funding, product cost is approximately 49 cents and service cost is approximately 46 cents. To make sure that people with disabilities are able to access the CRT equipment they need, a funding system must incorporate the total costs of providing the product and the supporting services. Because of these operational and financial challenges, there are only a limited number of companies that will supply CRT and that number is decreasing.

Problems with Cost Plus Payment Methodology

  1. Unless the Cost Plus methodology incorporates all costs of products and services with an appropriate multiplier, it does not provide appropriate payment rates.
  2. A Cost Plus system is time consuming for the payer. Since CRT orders are so complex, there may be 20 to 30 invoice line items to review on each claim. This creates additional administrative burdens.
  3. A Cost Plus system penalizes CRT suppliers and rewards companies that don’t. Because dedicated suppliers buy more products, they will typically have a lower product cost compared to the company that buys fewer products. The result of this is a supplier getting paid less than a company that has made a smaller investment.
  4. A Cost Plus system reduces the supplier’s desire to negotiate better acquisition costs.

Alternative Payment Methodologies  

  1. Use published Medicare Fee Schedule to ensure that the most current fee schedules are in place.
  2. Use Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Pricing (MSRP) to decrease the likelihood that a supplier will provide a low quality product.
  3. Use a combination of Medicare Fee Schedule and MSRP. Use the Medicare Fee Schedule for coded items and MSRP for non-coded items.

There are a number of problems with applying the Cost Plus payment methodology to CRT. The National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology (NCART) works hard to make sure that individuals with disabilities have access to CRT products and services. Contact us to find out how you can help!

What do we mean by accessories?

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The fight to protect access to CRT accessories has been at the forefront of our legislative discussion. From delaying the application of competitive bid rates to the CMS’ ruling on billing instructions that directly violates S-2425, it’s the issue that has garnered the most attention. But what exactly are we talking about when we refer to CRT accessories?

 

We’re not talking about frills. The term “accessory” can be deceptive, as it brings to mind items that are nice but not necessarily needed. When we’re talking CRT, accessories include items that are vital to the user’s life and health.

 

Cushions are not a luxury. In many cases, accessories include things such as seating and positioning cushions. Just like the word “accessory,” this can also bring to mind something that’s a luxury and not a necessity. For CRT users, however, it’s the exact opposite. These cushions and seating positions keep them from developing sores and placing stress on the wrong muscles. It keeps them healthy while using their wheelchair for everyday life.

 

They include things that are essential to operating the wheelchair. It would be impossible to operate a wheelchair without the wheels. The same goes for the control stick that turns the wheelchair. Yet, all these things are included in the accessory category. They also include miscellaneous parts that keep the chair going. When one of those parts goes out, it can be impossible for CRT users to get it replaced, due to the red-tape and lack of funding.

 

Getting the right accessories is more difficult than it seems. Because of how the system is currently set up, CRT users often end up being diagnosed with the wrong equipment, which leaves them unable to lead independent lives.
They help contribute to the tax base, not deplete it. By having the right accessories, CRT users are able to lead independent, productive lives that allow them to have jobs, homes and pay their taxes.

 

At NCART, we seek to educate legislators on the importance of funding CRT, including accessories. If you would like to help, visit our website and email your legislators!

Get Excited! It’s almost time! Preview of the 2016 RESNA/NCART Conference, Part 2

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In our previous blog, we highlighted some of the things we’re looking forward to during the 2016 RESNA/NCART conference. We would like to continue that preview for today’s blog:

CRT Legislative and Regulatory Update

The policy landscape for CRT is ever-changing, and this session’s aim is to keep attendees abreast of those changes. Industry experts will provide a comprehensive look at what’s going on at both the federal and state levels. Some of the things covered will include: Medicare Separate Benefit Category legislation, Medicare’s application of Competitive Bid pricing to CRT wheelchair accessories, other Medicare issues and state CRT legislation.

Seating, Mobility, and CRT Show and Tell

Just as the regulations surrounding CRT are constantly changing, so are the technologies going into them. This session will allow attendees to have a hands-on demonstration of recent emerging and innovative technologies for Complex Rehab Technology.

Capitol Hill Visits

If you have a stake at all in the world of Complex Rehab Technology, we would encourage you to attend this event! During this visit, you will have direct access to the policy makers who impact the legislation around CRT. Participants will be able to meet with both their senators and representatives in Congress. Those who do sign up for the Capitol Hill Visit will be required to attend the session titled “Congressional Prep for Capitol Hill Visits” The session will equip you with talking points about specific target issues, as well as familiarize you with the logistics of the visit.

The actual time that you visit with congressional members will vary. Since you will meet with the representatives from your area, everyone will meet with different legislators, and not all of them are on the same schedule. Remember, if you attend this session, you will need to dress appropriately! Dark suits for men, and pants or skirt suits for women.

 

We’re looking forward to seeing all of our supporters at this year’s conference! You can find full conference information here.

Etiquette to use when interacting with a wheelchair user

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If you’re a wheelchair user, you have certain “pet peeves” when it comes to how people interacted with you. Among them may be how people interact with you. Today’s blog covers what is proper etiquette around a wheelchair user:

Don’t touch my wheelchair. In many ways, my wheelchair is an extension of my body. You wouldn’t touch a stranger on a random part of their body, so don’t do it to my chair.

Don’t talk slower to me. I can understand speech perfectly fine. Even if my condition prevents me from speaking clearly, I’m still able to comprehend what you’re saying.

Don’t pat me on the head. I’m not a little kid.

Don’t talk over my head like I’m not there. Even if I’m with my caretaker, I can still talk, make decisions and interact with other people. Similarly, if I was standing up next to you, you would never think to talk through me as if I’m invisible—yet, that’s exactly what you’re doing when you talk over me.

Don’t grab my wheelchair handles so I can’t move. You wouldn’t like it if someone kept you from moving freely.

Don’t make me strain my neck. Pull up a chair or sit down next to me if you want to have a long conversation. It can strain my neck if I’m looking up at you too long, and that’s just uncomfortable.

Don’t ask me what happened. For some wheelchair users, this is a personal and touchy subject. Just like anyone else, some of us are more private than others, and really don’t want to reveal parts of our lives to complete strangers.

Don’t assist me when I say no. I like to maintain my autonomy and independence. It’s condescending for you to assume I need help when I haven’t asked for it. Also, if you jump to the “rescue” without asking, you could throw me off balance.

At NCART, we believe education is the key when it comes to changing both society and governmental regulations when it comes to wheelchair users. We continue to fight for the rights of wheelchair users, and you can help us. Visit our website to learn how!