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Rolling Along

How a proposed bill in Pennsylvania aims to keep wheelchair users moving through regular maintenance.

Service and repair are vital components of the complex rehabilitation technology (CRT) industry.

We recently chatted with Matt Berwick, president of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the United Spinal Association, about legislation he’s advocating for in Pennsylvania.

The Wheelchair Quality Insurance Act is currently under consideration in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives. If approved, the bill would ensure that wheelchair users in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have access to two wheelchair well visits each year covered by their insurance provider, a benefit that is not currently provided.

“Tell us a little about this legislation, where it stands and how it’s different from “Right-to-Repair” bills.”

The Wheelchair Quality Assurance Act is a bill that Rep. Dan Miller from Mt. Lebanon put together working with us at the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the United Spinal Association. The bill seeks to provide individuals in Pennsylvania with a covered benefit to have their wheelchairs evaluated on a six month basis, a lot like your dental cleanings. There’s nothing in the legislation that sets out how a supplier has to do it. The bill simply creates a covered benefit that provides you the option for a six-month maintenance check on your chair that insurance will pay for, whether the check happens in person or on the phone.

If my supplier were to call me and ask, “How are your casters? How are your wheels and your backrest?” I would be able to tell them confidently if something felt a little wonky. This type of legislation would really help wheelchair users because we won’t have to think about the maintenance of our chairs anymore. Somebody else will be calling to ask about it.

How do you think a bill like this could help wheelchair users?

Think about it like a well visit for your wheelchair. We know that well visits increase the health of individuals, so if we have well visits for wheelchairs, it will prolong the lifespan of the chair and make it safer so people can get to work. I think that’s a big piece of it: once my wheelchair breaks, I can be out of work for four to six months waiting for the parts to come in. This bill is going to help wheelchair users maintain the level of activity they want.

Interested in advocating about this issue or others in your community or state?

Stay Focused

Remember why you are advocating, Berwick advises. “In Pennsylvania, this is something that we need,” he says. “This is something that will improve the quality of life for people with

Be Brave

Advocating can be nerve-racking, but remember that legislators “work for us,” Berwick says. “The laws they pass are supposed to better our states and our nation,” he says. “They need to make sure the bills they are passing are important to their constituents.”

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