President expected to sign PWC amendment

Sunday, January 1, 2006

WASHINGTON - President Bush was expected to sign into law on Friday, Dec. 30, an appropriations bill that includes an amendment halting CMS's new power mobility rule, which replaced CMNs with prescriptions and physician notes Oct. 25.

The amendment, crafted by industry ally Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., prohibits CMS from using resources to implement or enforce its interim final rule (IFR). It advises CMS to re-issue its rule by Jan. 1, 2006, but the agency is unlikely to meet that deadline.

The rule also advises CMS to hold 45-day comment and transition periods and implement the rule no sooner than April 1, 2006.

As of mid-day Friday, the industry still awaited word from CMS on how to handle documentation for power wheelchairs and scooters until the new rule is finalized, said Seth Johnson, director of government affairs at Exeter, Pa.-based Pride Mobility.

Pending word from CMS, Johnson recommended providers continue to follow the current local coverage determination (LCD).

Below is the wording of the amendment and a Conference Committee's report:

Sec. 222. None of the funds made available under this act may be used to implement or enforce the interim final rule published in the Federal Register by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on August 26, 2005 (70 Fed. Reg. 50940) prior to April 1, 2006.

The conference agreement modifies a general provision proposed by the Senate prohibiting funds to be used to implement or enforce Medicare regulations on power mobility devices prior to April 1, 2006. The conference agreement includes limitation language prohibiting the implementation of a regulation until April 1, 2006, and deletes the portions of the Senate provision that reduced payments for power mobility devices and established deadlines for future rulemaking. The House bill contained no similar provision. The conferees concur in the intent of the Senate language that a proposed rule be published by Jan. 1, 2006, followed by a 45-day period to comment on the proposed rule, and that by not later than Feb. 14, 2006, a final rule be published, followed by a 45-day transition period for implementation.