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CMS has announced updates to its list of items of durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS) that will require prior authorization as a condition of payment. These new items will join 33 types of power wheelchairs that currently require prior authorization, bringing the list of DMEPOS that will require prior authorization to 45 items. For the first time, the list expands beyond power wheelchairs and includes 5 items of “Support Surfaces” (some mattresses, mattress overlays, and a powered air flotation bed.)[1]

Effective July 21, 2019, seven new Group 3 power wheelchair categories will each require prior authorization (Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) Codes K0857, K0858, K0859, K0860, K0862, K0863 and K0864).

Effective July 21, 2019 (Phase 1) in California, Indiana, New Jersey and North Carolina (one state in each of the four DME Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) geographic areas), prior authorization will be required for five items in the “Support Services” category, including pressure reducing mattresses, mattress overlays, and powered air flotation beds (HCPCS Codes E0193, E0277, E0371, E0372, and E0373). Effective October 19, 2019 (Phase 2), the prior authorization requirement will expand to all states.

In addition to the expansion of the prior authorization list, the Master List of DMEPOS items that could potentially be subject to future prior authorization as a condition of payment has been updated, effective May 22, 2019. Newly added to the list are: oxygen concentrator (HCPCS E1390), home ventilator (HCPCS E0466), external ambulatory infusion pump – insulin (HCPCS E0784), and lumbar-sacral orthosis (HCPCS L0650).[2]

The Center for Medicare Advocacy published an Alert after the last DMEPOS prior authorization requirement list was expanded in September 2018. The Center examined possible benefits and problems with the prior authorization process and recommended ways to minimize/avoid denials of prior authorization requests. That Alert can be found at: https://www.medicareadvocacy.org/medicare-prior-authorization-requirement-for-power-wheelchairs-expanding-nationwide-effective-september-1-2018/

April 25, 2019 – K. Holt


[1]https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/04/22/2019-08031/medicare-program-update-to-the-required-prior-authorization-list-of-durable-medical-equipment
[2] https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/04/22/2019-08032/medicare-program-prior-authorization-process-for-certain-durable-medical-equipment-prosthetics

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