CMS forum tackles power chair controversy

Sunday, March 28, 2004

March 29, 2004

WASHINGTON - CMS will host a special Open Door Forum on power wheelchairs Wednesday, March 31, from 2 p.m to 3:30.  The forum will allow suppliers and beneficiaries to speak directly with CMS senior staff, as well as the medical directors of the DMERCs about Medicare coverage policy for power wheelchairs.
Previous Open Door Forums in the past several months dealing with this benefit have predominantly been Listening Sessions, focused on hearing comments and concerns from the provider and supplier communities relative to the growth of benefit expenditures, the implementation of Medicare coverage policy, the evolution of power wheelchair products and the supplier industry, and the impact of the benefit on Medicare beneficiary lives.
CMS came under heavy fire from organizations throughout the wheelchair industry after the DMERCs issued a clarification of medical coverage guidelines on Dec. 9, 2003. That clarification made explicit a requirement that limited coverage for power wheelchairs to those Medicare beneficiaries who were bed- or chair-bound. The industry has argued that the clarification was actually a policy change that required public comment
Bowing to industry pressure, CMS has informed Congress that it plans to retract the Dec. 9 clarification. But it’s unclear yet whether that retraction has occurred, and whether CMS has begun to process claims differently in light of these intentions.
To participate in Wednesday’s forum by phone, dial 1-800-837-1935 and reference the following conference ID: 6334600. Persons participating by phone are not required to RSVP.