A stethoscope on top of several dollar bills

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Wednesday released a proposed National Coverage Determination decision that would expand coverage for power seat elevation equipment on certain power wheelchairs to Medicare individuals. The proposal is open for public comment for 30 days.

“Millions of people with Medicare rely on medically necessary assistive devices to perform daily tasks that directly impact their quality of life. CMS remains committed to ensuring persons with disabilities are receiving available benefits that improve their health,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a statement. “Today’s proposal promotes a first of its kind benefit expansion providing people with Medicare additional tools to improve their lives.”

If finalized, Medicare would cover power seat elevation equipment for individuals with a Group 3 power wheelchair, which is designed to meet the needs of people with Medicare with severe disabilities, in order to improve their health as they transfer from the wheelchair to other surfaces. Transfers often strain shoulder and back muscles and constrain an individual’s daily mobility at home and other customary locations, CMS said in a press release.

CMS noted that the proposed decision follows an evidence-based clinical analysis CMS initiated in August 2022 to examine whether the use of power seat elevation equipment on power wheelchairs falls within a Medicare benefit category and, if so, whether it is reasonable and necessary.

A large-scale Swedish study recently found that older adults who use wheelchairs are at lower risk for fractures from falls compared to ambulatory patients who are able to walk on their own.