WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 18, 2022)—Disability group advocates and mobility stakeholders are energized the wake of the announcement from Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) opening the Medicare National Coverage Determination (NCD) for seat elevation systems used with power wheelchairs.
“Opening the coverage determination for power seat elevation is a very positive development for individuals with profound mobility challenges,” said Tom Ryan, AAHomecare president and CEO. “These systems have the capability to improve the health, independence and quality of life for Medicare beneficiaries with severe disabilities.”
CMS's announcement also provided an update on the NCD status for standing systems used with power wheelchairs, noting that consideration of both seat elevation and standing systems "requires evaluation of two distinct groupings of evidence." CMS added that the "benefit category and coverage of standing systems will be considered at a later date."
"While AAHomecare and mobility stakeholders are pleased to see the seat elevation NCD opened, we remain committed to the belief that both power seat elevation and standing systems deserve to be evaluated—and covered—in a timely fashion," added Ryan. "We are disappointed that CMS has delayed the NCD for standing systems and urge CMS to expedite consideration for power standing systems as soon possible. Medicare beneficiaries with significant disabilities and their caregivers shouldn't have to continue to wait for full access to these proven, life-enhancing products."
“Our nation's health care infrastructure needs to take full advantage of technologies that help prevent additional serious medical complications and allow individuals to remain in home-based settings,” continued Ryan. “Seat elevation and standing systems are prime examples of technologies that are already delivering benefits far beyond their costs. We need to move forward to get these systems covered by Medicare."
The Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid (ITEM) Coalition has taken a leadership role in advocating for opening the NCD for power standing and seat elevation systems. AAHomecare was among the 60 organizations joining a 2020 ITEM-led letter to CMS seeking NCD reconsideration for this technology that concludes:
“Power seat elevation and power standing systems have now been available in power wheelchairs for 25 years and are covered by many payers other than the Medicare program. Now is the time for Medicare—the largest health care payer in the country—to finally cover power seat elevation and standing systems in Group 3 power wheelchairs.”
The comment period will be open through Wednesday, Sept. 14. See AAHomecare’s Seat Elevation/Standing Systems NCD Reconsideration Central for messaging and resources to help develop your comments. AAHomecare is currently developing comments in support of expanding coverage, as well.
“Now is the time for Medicare – the largest health care payer in the country – to finally cover power seat elevation in power wheelchairs for the benefit of Medicare beneficiaries with mobility disabilities,” said Peter Thomas, co-coordinator of the ITEM Coalition and a principal at the Powers Law Firm. “We also urge Medicare to proceed expeditiously with a separate NCA for power standing systems to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries can access these necessary systems as well."
The ITEM Coalition has developed rise4access.org to help the public advocate for coverage.
Seat Elevation Systems as an Accessory to Power Wheelchairs (Group 3)—CMS announcement/issue page
Submit comments here
CMS guidance for submitting comments
AAHomecare Seat Elevation/Standing Systems NCD Reconsideration Central