Another chance to make your voice heard on the need for covering power seat elevation equipment for group 3 power wheelchairs.

by Melanie Hamilton-Basich

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a proposed National Coverage Determination (NCD) decision that would expand coverage for power seat elevation equipment on group 3 power wheelchairs through Medicare. The proposed NCD is open for public comment until March 17, 2023.

This is the continuation of the process that began in August 2022 “to examine whether the use of power seat elevation equipment on power wheelchairs: 1) falls within a Medicare benefit category and 2) if yes, whether it is reasonable and necessary.” The expected completion date for the National Coverage Analysis of seat elevation systems is May 16, 2023. 

Related: CMS Opens Consideration for Seat Elevation Systems Coverage

If finalized, this expansion in coverage would benefit so many wheelchair users. And that’s what this is all about, as I’m sure anyone reading this knows all too well. 

Kirsten Davin, OTD, OTR/L, ATP, SMS, is an occupational therapist and expert in the seating and positioning industry who is a strong proponent of this change, because she knows how important it could be. Here, she shares an example of the impact such equipment can have on wheelchair users.  

“The CMS proposal for power seat elevation equipment on Group 3 power wheelchairs to potentially fall within the benefit category for durable medical equipment (DME) is a decision that has the potential to offer life-changing opportunities for a multitude of wheelchair users,” Davin states. 

“In my Fall 2021 Rehab Management article, Freeing Effects of Seating Functionality, I discussed the case of Lucille, a 92-year-old farm wife who presented with significant limitations in functional mobility and the performance of activities of daily living due to multiple diagnoses. We assisted her in acquiring a power seat elevator, which resulted in a vast improvement in independence. It allowed her to once again independently transfer to and from the wheelchair to multiple surfaces, access her refrigerator, perform meal preparation and other tasks on the kitchen counter, fully access cabinets, complete a load of laundry and, in Lucille’s opinion, most importantly, elevate her seat to look out the kitchen window to check on her son and grandson who were working in the field. 

“Fortunately, Lucille had the funds to privately pay for the power seat elevation component, but many across the country do not. This feature was a valuable component that played a role in keeping her in her home, independently for several years to come. I support and welcome the possibility of CMS providing coverage for the power seat elevation feature as it has the potential to offer thousands of wheelchair users a new level of freedom, independence, and self-sufficiency, while allowing the consumer an increased opportunity to age in place, staying in their home as long as possible.”

This is just one example of how this expansion in CMS coverage could improve people’s lives. And you have a chance to influence the decision. 

Related: Justifying Power Seat Elevation and Standing Systems

In the statement announcing the proposal, CMS encourages feedback from all interested parties, including clinicians. The proposed National Coverage Determination decision memorandum is available to review, and includes a link at the top of the page to submit public comments. The 30-day comment period will close March 17, 2023.

Will you submit public comments? Do you have a story to share about the need for seat elevation system coverage expansion? Let us know in the comments below.