NCART Members and Friends,
We are making progress on our Separate Benefit Category legislation, H.R. 4378, the “Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehab Technology Act”. This is a good time to update everyone and review what folks can be doing to keep things moving forward.
1.) The political landscape- As we enter the summer and Congress is in election mode, it’s a great time to be reaching out to your Members. Our task is to get every member of Congress educated on Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) and signed on to H.R. 4378 in the House or to a companion bill once introduced in the Senate. If we can generate enough support (co-sponsors) over the next several months, that will put us in position to push to have our bill attached to a larger piece of legislation when Congress comes back after the elections. It’s a big goal, but for us to have a chance in that November/December window we need to be doing the hard work now through October.
2.) Current Co-Sponsors list- Active discussions are continuing with many Member offices. We’re happy to report that thanks to the persistence of dedicated CRT stakeholders, the following House Members (listed alphabetically by state) have officially signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 4378. If your Member is not on this list, you know what your assignment is for next week!
|Rep. Devin Nunes||CA-21||R||Ways & Means|
|Rep. Linda Sánchez||CA-39||D|
|Rep. Jared Polis||CO-2||D|
|Rep. John Larson||CT-1||D||Ways & Means|
|Rep. Bill Posey||FL-15||R|
|Rep. Ted Deutch||FL-19||D|
|Rep. John Lewis||GA-5||D||Ways & Means|
|Rep. Richard Neal||MA-2||D||Ways & Means|
|Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger||MD-2||D|
|Rep. Gregg Harper||MS-3||R||Energy & Commerce|
|Rep. Charles Rangel||NY-15||D||Ways & Means|
|Rep. Maurice Hinchey||NY-22||D|
|Rep. Louise Slaughter||NY-28||D|
|Rep. Joseph Crowley (Sponsor)||NY-7||D||Ways & Means|
|Rep. James Langevin||RI-2||D||Disability Caucus|
|Rep. Doc Hastings||WA-4||R|
3.) H.R. 4378 website- the dedicated SBC website, www.access2crt.org , is fully operational. This houses the “Intro to CRT” video, various advocacy materials, and most importantly the link that enables anyone to send an email to their Congressman and Senators asking for their support. It also houses a Co-Sponsor Scoreboard so you can see who has already signed on. This is the place to point people to so they can get engaged in our efforts. We will be updating this site regularly!
4.) Questions from Congress- once you connect with your Member’s office, a very good sign is if he/she has questions about the bill. Please feel free to contact me in those situations and I will be happy to reply directly or to help you develop your own reply. One common question is “what is the cost of the bill”. Here is the response you can give: “Since the bill was just introduced in April, we do not have a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score yet. To obtain a CBO score we need to get more co-sponsors behind this bill so the CBO will make it a priority. However, to address this question the SBC Steering Committee hired a well respected Washington, DC economic consulting firm, Dobson & Davanzo, to use a CBO model and develop a score. Their report estimated the cost at about $5 million a year (or $56 million over 10 years). We recognize cost is a factor and will work to make changes should the CBO score be higher. Based on that, we are asking for co-sponsors to sign on with that assumption and recognizing the merits of the legislation. It’s important to note that this cost does not factor in any of the savings that will result if people have better access to CRT. Better access will reduce the major healthcare costs that result from such things as development of pressure sores, progression of orthopedic issues, increased hospitalizations, etc.”
5.) Publicize the supporting organizations- it is very helpful to share with your Members all the consumer, clinician, supplier and manufacturer groups that are behind H.R. 4378. Attached is that list. Please use it as part of soliciting your Member’s support.
6.) Becoming an “official” co-sponsor- your Member is not officially a co-sponsor unless he/she contacts Nicole Cohen in Congressman Joe Crowley’s office to let her know. She can be reached at 202-225-3965 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also beware of your Member saying they “support it and will vote for it” when it comes to the floor. That is good, but what we need is for him/her to officially SIGN ON as a co-sponsor now so we can add his/her name to the bill. If he/she “support” it, signing on as a co-sponsor should be easy.
7.) What you need to be doing- it’s time to get a commitment from your Members in Congress. If you haven’t made contact yet, start with an email and use the information at www.access2crt.org to inform him/her of the issues and the bill. But remember the email is only the START of the process. If you have already been in contact with your Member, don’t be timid about pushing for support. If he/she is hesitant, find out why and what we can do to address the concerns. But after giving a reasonable period of time to analyze and consider the bill, you need to be politely persistent so he/she knows this is important to you. Given the elections up ahead, Members will likely be more open to addressing the request of their constituents.
We have created a variety of tools to help in your advocacy efforts: position paper, video, legislation summary, suggested email, CRT background information, etc. These can all be very helpful, but are worthless unless you and others take the time to use them with Congress. Unfortunately Members will not sign on unless they hear from you and others in your district. So please invest the time next week and let us know how we can be of assistance. Thanks!
Donald E. Clayback