Policy Analysis on Power Seat Elevation
This peer-reviewed journal article was written in reflection on the Clinician Task Force’s engagement in the NCD Reconsideration Request for Mobility Assistive Equipment. This manuscript analyzes the CMS coverage decision on power seat elevation systems and options for change from an ethical, holistic perspective.
In the early 2000s the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services determined that power seat elevation systems did not meet the definition of durable medical equipment, and therefore are non-covered items. Yet, power seat elevation systems are covered by other funding sources, and many power wheelchair users utilize these systems regularly when performing tasks such as transferring, reaching, and looking at objects in environments designed for ambulatory people. Adjusting for height when performing these tasks may reduce the onset of pain and comorbidities. To improve access to power seat elevation systems, a clinical team of 4 Clinician Task Force members investigated applicable literature, compiled evidence, and evaluated existing policies to explain the medical nature of power seat elevation systems as a part of a greater interprofessional effort. This manuscript aims to analyze Medicare's policy decision that power seat elevation systems are not primarily medical in nature using Bardach's 8-step framework. As a special communication, this will inform health care professionals of the medical nature of power seat elevation systems and the evidence-based conditions under which power wheelchair users may need power seat elevation systems, as well as empower clinicians to engage in policy directives to affect greater change.