Edwards on PWC codes: 'We must get it right'

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

ATLANTA - CMS's delay of the new power mobility device codes in October affords the rehab industry one last chance to affect change, according to the SADMERC medical director.
Dr. Doran Edwards pointed out at Medtrade that this is the third time attempts have been made to revamp the codes, and although CMS hasn't told him as much, he believes "we must get it right" this time.
"I've suspended all my other SADMERC duties," Edwards said. "Whatever it takes, I'm willing to do it."
The 65 codes, released in mid-September, replaced 49 codes released in February. The codes were to go into effect Jan. 1, 2006, much to the chagrin of the industry, which believed the codes weren't consistent with industry standards.
Edwards will help craft the panel that will advise CMS on developing the new codes. He encouraged providers to contact CMS to recommend members (Joel Kaiser, jkaiser@cms.hhs.gov; or Carol Blackford, carol.blackford@cms.hhs.gov).
The panel will likely include nine to 12 members representing a broad rage of interests, including CMS, the SADMERC, engineers, clinicians, manufacturers and suppliers, Edwards said.
One of the first tasks for the panel will be determining if the existing power wheelchair and scooter categories have "adequate granularity," he said. It will then determine what tests are appropriate.
"We're starting from scratch," Edwards said.
When asked about the in-the-home restriction, Edwards said going forward, codes would take into account not only performance and durability but also a wheelchair's clinical capabilities.
"If we don't have the three legs of that stool, it will fall over," he said.