Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced in a national coverage decision that Medicare will now cover seat elevation devices for power wheelchairs. This decision follows years of advocacy by disability and aging organizations. Seat elevation devices are critical to power wheelchair users who use them to perform activities of daily living, such as transferring to and from their wheelchair, preparing food, and dressing. Beneficiaries will be responsible for applicable cost-sharing.
The decision by CMS follows a formal request from the Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid (ITEM) Coalition and other supporting organizations. Their request was supported by public input from numerous individuals and aging and disability organizations and the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency that advises on disability policy. Research funded by ACL’s National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) helped provide the evidence base to inform the decision.
ACL and its network of disability and aging organizations will partner with CMS to help make sure wheelchair users are fully aware of this new benefit.
In their request for Medicare coverage, advocates also asked CMS to cover standing equipment for certain power wheelchairs. CMS is considering that request separately.