Wednesday, July 9, 2008

ALS Association Wins Fight for Power Wheelchairs

ALS Association Wins Fight for Power Wheelchairs
Dear Drew,
Thanks to the outreach of ALS advocates in key states across the country, the U.S. Senate this afternoon passed legislation (HR 6331) that would exclude power wheelchairs from Medicare's new competitive bidding program. The bill, which passed by a 69-30 vote, also would delay implementation of the program for 18 months. This is a tremendous victory for people with ALS and their families and helps to ensure PALS will continue to have access to needed power wheelchairs!
For nearly two years, The ALS Association has worked with Congress to exclude high-end power chairs from the new program for fear that it would limit the types of chairs available to PALS, reduce services and force PALS to obtain chairs from suppliers who do not know the unique medical needs of people with ALS.
The Association held a breakout session on competitive bidding during our Advocacy Conference in May and worked closely with PALS and Chapters to educate Congress on the unique needs of people with ALS, making it clear that one-size-fits-all policies like competitive bidding are not appropriate when it comes to this disease. In fact, the participation of PALS at a press conference on competitive bidding last year helped to highlight the concerns of the ALS community and clearly demonstrated that the chairs needed by PALS are much different than those used by most Medicare beneficiaries.
With today's vote, we are one step closer to ensuring that competitive bidding will not limit the ability of PALS to access to the power chairs they need when they need them.
The House of Representatives already has passed HR 6331 with broad support so the bill now heads to the President for his signature. The President has signaled that he may veto the bill due to concerns about other unrelated provisions. However, both the Senate and House passed the bill with enough support to override a veto and enact HR 6331 into law.
We would like to thank all of the PALS, families and Chapters who have helped to reach out to Congress in support of this issue over the past two years. Your outreach has continued to make a difference!
If you have any questions about today's vote or would like additional information, please contact the Advocacy Department at or 1-877-444-ALSA.
Thank you!

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