SACRAMENTO – Legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would ensure people with disabilities have access to complex rehabilitative services and equipment such as individually fitted wheelchairs cleared a key committee today.
“We must do all we can to ensure people with disabilities get the specialized equipment they need that allows them to live their lives to the fullest,” Sen. Dodd said. “Also, we must ensure this vulnerable population has access to a network of qualified providers. My bill would do that, achieving a level of dignity people deserve. I thank committee members for seeing the value of this proposal.”
In California, people living with significant physical disabilities such as ALS, multiple sclerosis and brain injuries have access to a limited number of providers of complex rehabilitative technology including customized wheelchairs. Compounding the problem is recession-related legislation from 2009 that reduced reimbursement rates for many Medi-Cal providers. Currently, the small network of providers of complex rehabilitative technology are subject to this cut along with other reductions, increased expenses from the COVID-19 pandemic and significant operating costs involved in providing and servicing this specialized equipment.
Senate Bill 717 would change state law to conform to federal regulations, ensuring patients needing treatment are served by qualified professionals. It also exempts complex rehabilitative products from previous Medi-Cal reimbursement reductions to help cover costs of quality care.
SB 717 passed the Senate Health committee with overwhelming support. It is sponsored by the National Coalition for Assistive and Rehabilitative Technology. Numerous supporters include the California Children’s Hospital Association, Disability Rights California, the Advanced Medical Technology Association, and the California Association of Medical Product Suppliers.
“Thousands of people with disabilities across California rely on specialized wheelchairs and other adaptive equipment to be independent and manage their health care needs,” said Donald Clayback, executive director of NCART. “Unfortunately access to this equipment has been compromised due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other long-term funding challenges. We thank Sen. Dodd for his leadership in introducing Senate Bill SB 717 to improve consumer safeguards and ensure they have continued and timely access to the important products and supporting services they depend on.”
“On behalf of National Seating and Mobility, our Fairfield facility staff, and our complex rehab technology clients, we would like to thank Sen. Dodd for introducing SB 717,” said Jackie Kirkwood, NSM’s regional area director. “This important legislation will improve the health and safety of our clients and ensure access to the critical specialized equipment that people with disabilities require.”
Senator Bill Dodd represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Solano, Yolo, Sonoma, Contra Costa, and Sacramento counties. You can learn more about the district and Senator Dodd at www.sen.ca.gov/dodd.