CMS moves to develop new PWC eligibility guidelines

Sunday, May 23, 2004

May 24, 2004

BALTIMORE - CMS is pulling physicians, nurses, PT/OTs and rehab experts from various federal agencies to populate a workgroup that will develop new guidelines for power wheelchair eligibility.
Sean Tunis, the CMS chief clinical officer who is heading up the workgroup, hopes to convene the first public listening session on the matter by early next month and to issue a draft of the guidelines by the end of the year.
“There is going to be a genuine and honest process for getting as much input as we can,” said Tunis. “I can guarantee people that we will understand these issues by the time this process is completed.”
CMS called for the development of the workgroup in its new three-pronged plan to strengthen its power wheelchair policy. Additionally CMS will develop a new set of codes for power wheelchairs and new quality standards for suppliers.
The industry has been pushing for CMS to be more explicit about who qualifies for a power wheelchair. Until recently, CMS preferred to let physicians make that call. The first prong of the new plan is welcome news for advocates of greater clarity, but the industry objects to CMS’s decision to restrict membership in the workgroup to federal employees.