Industry pow-wows on priorities, projects

Thursday, April 30, 2009

ORLANDO--About 1,000 people holed up in the Buena Vista Palace Hotel from March 12-14 to attend seminars and check out equipment as part of the International Seating Symposium (ISS).

“Given the economy, we were pleasantly surprised,” said Mark Schmeler, course director for the event and faculty member at the University of Pittsburg.

Groups like the Clinician Task Force (CTF) and RESNA’s SIG-09 also held meetings at ISS to discuss priorities and projects.

Getting formal

At ISS, the CTF developed a work plan for the year that includes making a formal request to Medicare to reconsider the seat and back local coverage determination (LCD). As its now written, the seat and back LCD is diagnosis driven. That means Medicare won’t pay for, say, a pressure-relieving cushion for a wheelchair unless a patient has a certain diagnosis. The problem: Brain injury and other diagnoses aren’t on the list.

“We’ve tried to work with them informally, and we’ve had some moderate success getting a few things added, but not everything,” said Laura Cohen, co-coordinator.

Picking up the pieces

Also at ISS, members of SIG-09 took additional steps toward creating guidelines for providing wheelchairs.

“There are a lot of conflicting ideas as to what is the typical service delivery process for wheelchairs,” said Carmen DiGiovine, a member of SIG-09 and owner and president of Six Degrees of Freedom outside of Chicago. “So we want to develop a consensus.”

So far, the group has identified eight steps that should be involved in providing wheelchairs: referral; assessment; recommendation; funding and procurement; product preparation; fitting, training and delivery; maintenance and repair; and outcome.