Lawmakers delay decision on key PWC provision

Sunday, November 27, 2005

WASHINGTON - Proponents of delaying CMS's transition from CMNs to physician prescriptions for power mobility devices will have to wait a little longer before declaring complete victory.

Leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives were unable to broker a deal that would have allowed congressmen to pass an appropriations bill containing the amendment before Thanksgiving.

Proponents crossed their fingers that both bodies would approve the bill before Thanksgiving. But on Nov. 17, the House rejected it. The reason: Congressmen couldn't agree on a provision that would ban Medicare from paying for erectile dysfunction drugs beginning in 2006.

Congressmen are due to take up the bill when they return to Capitol Hill in early December, said Cara Bachenheimer, vice president of government relations for Elyria, Ohio-based Invacare. Their options: Send the bill back to the Conference Committee, attach it to another bill or pass a continuing resolution that sets spending based on the previous year's budget.

Only the last of those options would put the amendment in any kind of danger. It's also the least likely, industry sources said.

The amendment requires CMS to re-issue its interim final rule by Jan. 1, 2006. It then requires the agency to hold 45-day comment and transition periods, and implement the rule no sooner than April 1, 2006.

Before a House-Senate Conference Committee forwarded the bill to the House and Senate for final votes, it dropped the part of the amendment that called for a 1.5% reimbursement cut for power mobility devices.

The bill, which sets spending for the health and human services and labor departments, also needs the president's signature.