CMS requires independent power wheelchair testing

Sunday, September 23, 2007

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Manufacturers must use independent facilities, with two exceptions, to test their power mobility devices, beginning Jan. 1, 2008, according to a Sept. 20 coding bulletin from the SADMERC.

Right now, manufacturers use on-site facilities to test their PMDs.

"They're adding unnecessary cost to the system," said Cara Bachenheimer, senior vice president of government relations for Invacare. "We'll have to continue to do the same testing that we currently do for our own purposes of understanding performance and for liability issues, and then pay an outside facility to replicate the process."

Manufacturers must use independent facilities for all tests except "drum fatigue and drop testing." Both the independent and on-site facilities must perform tests in accordance with ANSI and RESNA methods, standards and protocols, the SADMERC stated.

Instead of requiring testing by independent facilities, manufacturers like Invacare would prefer it if the SADMERC would require certification or inspections to ensure their on-site facilities comply with ANSI/RESNA standards.

"When you think about it, there's no assurance that the independent facilities are doing any better or worse than we are, because, right now, there's no such thing as an ANSI/RESNA stamp of approval," Bachenheimer said.

Manufacturers also pointed out that there are few independent facilities in the country--maybe three in all--to test hundreds of PMDs. The SADMERC acknowledged this problem in its bulletin.

"Since the independent testing facilities continue to be unable to accommodate testing within a reasonable amount of time, CMS will continue to allow use of on-site testing facilities for new products and code verification request submitted on or before Dec. 31, 2007," it states.

Invacare will "continue to address our ongoing concern" about independent testing facilities with the SADMERC, Bachenheimer said.