Tennessee Sets Precedent with Model Legislation for Wheelchair Maintenance Coverage

In a significant move forward for accessibility and support for individuals reliant on complex rehab wheelchairs, Tennessee has taken a pioneering step. A bill passed in the Tennessee General Assembly promises to revolutionize coverage and payment for preventative maintenance, marking a pivotal moment for wheelchair users and stakeholders alike.

The legislation mandates the state’s Medicaid program, TennCare, to cover and finance preventative maintenance annually, addressing the persistent challenges faced by wheelchair users in accessing timely repairs. John Goetz, senior advisor at Bridge Public Affairs, lauds the bill as a beacon of progress: “This moves us in the right direction.”

What sets this legislation apart is its collaborative genesis. The Tennessee Disability Coalition played a pivotal role from the outset, aligning efforts to remove prior authorization requirements for repairs and now instituting a preventative maintenance mandate. “This is a user-focused bill, driven by the coalition,” notes Goetz, emphasizing
the unprecedented unity between industry and user advocacy.

Crucially, the bill also empowers consumers by granting them the right to self-repair and directly purchase certain parts from manufacturers. Moreover, it imposes an obligation on providers to “service what you sell.” While the bill’s scope is currently limited to TennCare, stakeholders envision broader implications, with Goetz asserting, “This gets us 90% of the way there.”

One of the biggest hurdles in securing preventative maintenance coverage nationwide lies in Medicare’s absence of such provisions. Alexis Ward, senior director of payer relations for AAHomecare, highlights the systemic issue: “Most payers look to Medicare and there’s nothing.” However, Tennessee’s landmark legislation serves as a catalyst for broader advocacy efforts, emboldening stakeholders to engage with CMS on a national scale.

As the bill awaits the governor’s signature, its impact reverberates far beyond Tennessee’s borders. It stands as a testament to collaborative advocacy and a beacon of hope for wheelchair users across the nation. With momentum building and stakeholders galvanized, the journey towards comprehensive reform in wheelchair maintenance gains newfound vigor.

Source: https://www.hmenews.com/

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