Dealers of therapeutic shoes face uncertainty

Sunday, February 9, 2003

February 10, 2003

WASHINGTON - Region A Medical Director Dr. Paul Hughes admits he jumped the gun by issuing a December bulletin that greatly restricted the kinds of providers who can dispense therapeutic shoes for diabetics.

"CMS said I was right and consistent with the law but that they had some regulatory stuff going on with this, and I thought maybe it would be better if I retracted this pending the regulations," Hughes told HME News.

Hughes retracted the bulletin in January.

In issuing the bulletin, Hughes restricted the provision of therapeutic shoes to four Medicare providers: podiatrists, pedorthists, orthotists and prosthetists. "To date, there have been no instructions from the Secretary expanding this list," the bulletin stated.

CMS "is moving to clarify the meaning" of who can furnish therapeutic shoes but has set no deadline for issuing the new policy, said a department spokesperson.

At issue is the Carriers Manual definition that states footwear can be furnished by a podiatrist or other qualified provider such as a pedorthist, an orthotist or a prosthetist. The industry has long interpreted the phrase "other qualified provider" to include a whole range to providers (pharmacists and HMEs, for example), not just the "such as" examples in the Carriers Manual.

For more on this story, see the March issue of HME News.