Last month, CMS released a proposed NCD that would expand coverage for power seat elevation on certain power wheelchairs for the first time to Medicare beneficiaries. The proposed NCD is open for public comment until March 17, and it’s important for mobility stakeholders to add their voices to the effort.
If finalized, the NCD (read CMS’s memorandum here) would cover power seat elevation equipment under Medicare for individuals using Group 3 power wheelchairs. The main benefit of power elevation that CMS cited in its decision to propose the NCD was to improve users’ health as they transfer from the wheelchair, which can often strain shoulder and back muscles and constrain an individual’s daily mobility at home and other customary locations. But power mobility users also know that power seat elevation also provides numerous and profound quality of life benefits.
You might recall that this process began in August when CMS opened the NCD reconsideration for funding power seat elevation and opened a public comment period then. CMS noted its proposed NCD is based on the feedback it received from the various stakeholders and patient groups that submitted comments at that time. Those public comments were important then, and they’re just as critical now.
Helping Drive Comments
So, how can you help support the public comment push? First off, stakeholders can leave their public comments on CMS’s “Seat Elevation Systems as an Accessory to Power Wheelchairs (Group 3)” public comment page.
Also, several organizations have teamed up to provide various online resources to make it easy to submit comments, as well as enlist other stakeholders to help. The main groups driving the public comment push are the National Coalition for Assistive & Rehab Technology (NCART), the American Association for Homecare, the ITEM Coalition (and the long list of user and stakeholder groups it represents), and Access2CRT.
Some useful online resources they’ve set up include:
- AAHomecare’s Seat Elevation NCD Reconsideration Central.
- The ITEM Coalition’s Rise for Access site.
- Access2CRT’s Advocacy Action Center.
It’s taken too long for Medicare to cover powered seat elevation equipment for mobility users. CMS is doing the right thing by advancing this proposed NCD. Let’s make sure it happens by supporting the public comment effort.