ATS law approved

Sunday, August 31, 2008

OKLAHOME CITY, Okla.--It looks like Oklahoma will join a handful of other states with laws or policies in place that ramp up requirements for providing power wheelchairs.

Democratic Gov. Brad Henry in June signed a bill that, like Medicare, requires providers to have at least one ATS on staff to provide certain power wheelchairs.

“It’s a great victory for people in need of this technology,” said Gail DeWitt, director of assistive technology services for Westmont Medicare Services in Tulsa, Okla. “Now we know it can’t be provided by someone who owns some company that has never put out rehab before.”

The law goes into effect April 1, 2009.

With a law on the books, the rehab industry in Oklahoma will now seek additional reimbursement.

“If they require something, they should reimburse for it,” DeWitt said.

The industry also seeks to further strengthen requirements for providing certain power wheelchairs such as requiring an ATP be involved.


A legislative effort to force the state’s Medicaid program to stop using the controversial in-the-home restriction to deny certain power wheelchairs claims has failed to gain traction.

In January, Rep. Mike Turner, D-Old Hickory, and Sen. Joe Haynes D-Nashville, introduced bills that would revise the definition for DME, deleting “the requirement…that such equipment is appropriate for and used in the patient’s home” and not outdoors. Turner and Haynes weren’t able to move the bills forward, however, before the Tennessee General Assembly adjourned for the year in May.

One stumbling block: money. Opponents of the measure believe it will open the floodgates to additional power wheelchair claims. The rehab industry in Tennessee plans to give it another go in January, though, when the assembly reconvenes.

“If I’m able to get in front of a committee and say, ‘This is the law; fix it or you’re going to get sued,’ I think I’ll get somewhere,” said Darren Jernigan, director of government affairs for Permobil.

A 1999 Supreme Court decision states people with disabilities must be kept in their least restrictive environments. The Olmstead decision, as its called, applies only to state and local governments.