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Power seat elevation ‘the greatest victory’

Power seat elevation ‘the greatest victory’

In an industry with a history of hardscrabble policy battles, this year’s allowance of power seat elevation systems represents “the greatest victory for power chair users in recent memory.” 

John Wright, executive vice president of sales management and business development for Los Angeles-based Shoprider, said the industry has been asking for coverage for power seat elevation systems for many years “as they recognized the need to improve power chair user independence, as well as social interaction.” 

Funding and Medicare coding “is still up in the air, at this point, so we will have to wait for that to be decided,” Wright said. “I am sure that the initial release of (the final coding and payment decision) will continue to be a challenge for the foreseeable future.” 

According to CMS, the timeline for release of that decision for power seat elevation systems is “around February”, said Seth Johnson, senior vice president of government affairs for Duryea, Pa.-based Pride Mobility Products/Quantum Rehab.  

“We are also expecting a final decision or at a minimum more information regarding coding for standard power seat elevation at that time, as well,” he said. 

Coverage for power standing systems is expected to be the next area CMS will consider for coverage, Wright said, but this will likely occur after the seat elevation issue is decided. 

“I do not believe that will be sorted out for at least the rest of 2024,” Wright said. 

Johnson notes that “the research clearly supports the medical benefit of power standing systems, and when a standing system is used in conjunction with a power wheelchair it also promotes participation in (mobility-related activities of daily living), which has been conveyed to CMS.” 

Yet, Johnson said it’s unclear what’s keeping CMS from moving forward with power standing systems and putting the product category out for public comment. Additional outreach is expected by consumer advocates, clinicians, NCART, AAHomecare and other industry stakeholders to advance that coverage goal. 

Market challenges 

Despite progress on the power seat elevation front, the market still faces funding and reimbursement difficulties, along with equipment repair obstacles, Wright said. 

The repair part of the complex rehab provider business has always been a "necessary evil,” Wright said.  

“The huge costs of large parts inventories, technician salaries, vehicle costs, repair shop space costs, vehicle repair and maintenance, and rising gas prices all are presenting challenges for the provider to just break even, let alone be profitable,” he said. “Parts reimbursement rates are far behind the damage that inflation has wreaked on every cost category.”  

Johnson agrees and says wheelchair repair and service reform is a top priority for the industry in 2024.  

“A broad coalition led by NCART and AAHomecare is working to get out in front of the bad legislation introduced last year that we anticipate will grow to even more states this year,” he said. “The coalition is in a much better position this year and has resources and alternative legislation to holistically address the problem.” 

Tech status 

As technology all around us continues to reach new heights, it directly coincides with the advancements within the complex rehab industry, Johnson said.  

"The industry continues to look at new products and innovations to enhance the functional independence of the clients we serve,” he said. “Home automation continues to grow with more advanced and better interactive products to allow clients to control everything within their home and environment… from opening garage doors to climate, lights, TVs, and everything in between. The industry is very focused on integrating accessibility technology from places like Apple and Google into the power wheelchair electronics. We also continue to integrate more advanced and smart drive control systems giving clients improved function with their chairs and better accessibility."


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