Rehab group primed for 'Super Tuesday'

Sunday, October 23, 2005

WASHINGTON - Part of the rehab industry has named Oct. 25 "Super Tuesday," with CMS's interim final rule going into effect and the Power Mobility Coalition going to court in a last-ditch effort to delay the rule.

The PMC filed suit against CMS on Oct. 13, seeking a preliminary injunction that would prevent the agency from implementing its interim final rule, which, among other things, replaces CMNs with prescriptions and physician notes. Its rationale: CMS violated the Administrative Procedures Act by setting an implementation date that precedes the deadline for comments (Nov. 25). The PMC also believes the rule will result in "irreparable harm" not only to HME providers but also beneficiaries.

The hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Judge Reggie Walton will preside.

"We understand that the judge is prepared to rule from the bench," said Eric Sokol, director of the PMC.

The ruling could result in several different scenarios. The judge could rule in PMC's favor and grant the injunction, which would last until "the court hears our case on the merits," Sokol said. Other scenarios include the judge deferring judgment, ruling against the PMC or deciding the coalition doesn't have proper jurisdiction.

The PMC realizes the suit "might be an uphill battle," but it felt it had few other options, Sokol said. The straw that broke the camel's back was CMS's decision to delay implementation of new power wheelchair and scooter codes, as well as the local coverage determination, but stay the course on its interim final rule.

"Certainly, this was not our choice," he said. "We prefer to sit down and work with CMS. Hopefully, that will be the outcome, because that's the relief we're seeking. But CMS gave no indication that it would delay the rule."