Texas doctors seek red-tape reduction to help the needy

James Holly M.D.

A group of Texas physicians is fighting government roadblocks to secure care and services to help their patients in need — to access addiction-fighting drugs, or obtain devices to help people with disabilities move.

The 34-member Texas Delegation to the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates will ask the policymaking body to adopt a resolution this week to help patients with disabilities get devices to help them move, and another to allow physicians to prescribe medications electronically for patients they know.

Custom-powered wheelchairs and adaptive seating, custom-configured for patients with chronic and disabling conditions, are called complex rehabilitation technology devices. Right now, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services classifies those devices as durable medical equipment, lumping the special devices with others. Doctors say without these devices having their own Medicare payment category, too often patients cannot get them when they need them.

“[Patients] need power wheelchairs and custom manual wheelchairs that they can’t get because of multiple hoops they have to jump through,” said Ellia Ciammaichella, DO, a member of the Texas Medical Association’s (TMA’s) Resident and Fellow Section of physicians in training. The group sponsored a resolution at TMA’s House of Delegates directing the Texas AMA group to propose the change at the national level. The draft AMA resolution says the reclassification would “increase (patients’) independence, reduce their overall health care expenses, and appropriately manage their medical needs.”

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