CMS 'looking' at delay
WASHINGTON - Nothing's official, but the word on the street is that CMS will delay or modify its requirement that independent assistive technology practitioners (ATPs) conduct evaluations for certain power wheelchairs beginning April 1.
"It's not a matter of if but when," said Simon Margolis, executive director of NRRTS. "There are no more misconceptions about whether there will be enough ATPs by 2008."
In October, Dr. Doran Edwards, the medical director for the SADMERC, told attendees at Medtrade that CMS was "actively looking" at delaying or modifying the requirement.
The industry has lobbied CMS to delay the requirement for months, saying there aren't enough independent ATPs to conduct evaluations. One estimate puts the number of ATPs with wheeled seating and mobility experience at 184, concentrated on the East Coast.
AAHomecare's Rehab and Assistive Technology Council (RATC) sent a letter to CMS in October, asking the agency to delay the requirement for three years until April 1, 2011.
"We believe a delay to get a wide availability of ATPs is the best way to go," said Tim Pederson, chairman of RATC and CEO of WestMed Rehab in Rapid City, S.D.
Additionally, RATC wants CMS to limit the requirement to ATPs who are licensed/certified medical professionals (LCMPs), such as OTs or PTs, with wheeled seating and mobility experience. Others want CMS to broaden the requirement to allow ATPs or LCMPs to conduct the evaluations.
"The idea is to get the appropriate people involved but not prevent access," said Don Clayback, who heads up The MED Group's National Rehab Network. "This way, if you're in a rural area without ATPs, you still have a chance at getting an evaluation and a wheelchair."
One part of CMS's requirement that's sure to take effect April 1: Providers with assistive technology suppliers (ATSs) on staff must deliver certain power wheelchairs.
"A lot of the providers I work with believe that requirement should stay, because any problems with fraud and abuse are on the provider side," said Cindi Petito, a therapist and owner of Seating Solutions.