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Federal Study on Power Wheelchair Costs in Medicare Is Misleading and Ignores Costs of Required Services for Beneficiaries
Date:9/3/2009

ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a study released yesterday, the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) ignored the substantial costs of services related to providing power wheelchairs, including complex rehab, to seniors and people with disabilities who require mobility assistance. The study is titled "Power Wheelchairs in the Medicare Program: Supplier Acquisition Costs and Services" and dated August 2009.

The American Association for Homecare believes the study is both disappointing and extremely misleading. The OIG admits that they did not account for services involved in providing and maintaining properly adjusted power wheelchairs to Medicare beneficiaries in their homes. The OIG study notes, "We did not determine the cost of performing these services or other general supplier business expenses, such as billing, accreditation, staff salaries, or facility maintenance."

The OIG report does not account for the cost of the 26 federally mandated supplier standards that are required of home medical equipment firms that participate in Medicare. Compliance with those standards is a significant cost driver for providers of power wheelchairs.

Tyler Wilson, President of the American Association for Homecare, stated, "This study, unfortunately, perpetuates the myth that suggests one could order a power wheelchair and have it dropped at your front door. The study glosses over the level of care, service, and professionalism that an accredited home medical provider would furnish directly to a senior or person with a disability."

Tim Pederson, CEO of WestMed Rehab in Rapid City, SD and chairman of AAHomecare's Complex Rehab and Mobility Council, commented, "The data used in this August 2009 OIG report is from 2007. The economic reality for a rehab provider in 2009 has changed markedly since 2007. Reimbursement rates hav
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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