Press release and complex rehab survey results courtesy of NCART.
For Immediate Release
September 29, 2008
Contact: Sharon Hildebrandt
Washington, DC – Providers of complex rehab technology may be forced to reduce services and limit product choice in response to a reduction in reimbursement, according to a survey spearheaded by the National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology (NCART). The reimbursement reduction, totaling 9.5 percent for complex power wheelchairs and related accessories, was enacted as part of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA). The survey, to which 184 complex rehab companies responded with locations in nearly every state, was conducted in September 2008.
The survey results indicate that the consequences of this reduction are far-reaching. 77 percent of the companies reported that the reimbursement cut will impact 20 percent or more of their revenue, while 51 percent reported that the cut will impact 40 percent or more of their revenue. Profitability will also be impacted with 66 percent indicating their profitability will be decreased by up to 20 percent.
The impact on revenue and profitability will be reflected in both the services provided by complex rehab companies and product choice available to people with disabilities. 87 percent of the respondents indicated the reduction would affect their ability to do off-site assessments and evaluations, either reducing this service or eliminating it altogether. Providing demonstration and trial equipment would be reduced or eliminated by 88 percent. The ability to offer a variety of product choices, necessary to address the unique needs of individuals with disabilities, would be reduced or eliminated by 95 percent of the respondents. Service and repair would also be affected, with 91 percent indicating their ability to perform repairs and servicing at the customer’s home would be impacted.
In the comment section of the survey, many respondents expressed concern that product quality could be compromised by the reimbursement cut. Compromised product quality would result in greater need for service and repair, at a time in which the companies would be reducing their service/repair services or requiring that servicing be performed only on-site. Some respondents pointed out that many of the services they provide, such as demonstration equipment, are not reimbursed by third-party payers, so those services would be eliminated first, making it more difficult to fit the product to the individual. And some will reduce staff and close offices, which would especially impact small towns and rural areas.
“These reported implications of the 9.5 percent reduction are not surprising” said Gary Gilberti, president of NCART and CEO of Chesapeake Rehab Equipment in Baltimore, MD, “although the impact is more pronounced than I had anticipated. Unless Congress is able to rescind the 9.5 percent cut to complex rehab products, providers will unfortunately have to make these changes to stay in business and continue serving their customers as best they can.”
“It’s unfortunate that these cuts will impact people with the most severe disabilities. However, these results are an important step in educating policymakers about the impact of reimbursement change enacted in the MIPPA,” said Sharon Hildebrandt, executive director of NCART. “We plan on monitoring complex rehab services and product choices when the cut begins in January so that we can reliably report on the implications of the 9.5 percent reduction and seek necessary changes.”
# # # #
The National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology (NCART) is a coalition of providers and manufacturers of complex rehab technology and services. Its mission is to ensure a stable business environment to support appropriate access to assistive and rehab technology for people with disabilities.