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Change in Medicare Wheelchair Policy May Prevent Texas Beneficiaries from Receiving Mobility Assistance Starting January
Date:12/20/2010

ntinue to provide power wheelchairs, resulting in a loss of jobs, economic revenue, and beneficiary access to a physician-prescribed power wheelchair."  

Furthermore, the bipartisan letter underscored the benefit to patients receiving power wheelchairs and the savings in Medicare spending.

"Furnishing power wheelchairs to Medicare beneficiaries saves the program millions of dollars a year by allowing vulnerable beneficiaries to remain safe and independent in their homes and communities," the letter said.  "Without access to power wheelchairs, thousands of beneficiaries would face additional hospitalizations, home health visits and other clinical services due to falls and other injuries that occur because of compromised mobility. In addition, power wheelchairs often postpone or alleviate the need to place an individual in a long term care facility."

Providers also noted that the reimbursement changes would be coming at a time when their businesses are already burdened with a number of other policy and regulatory issues.  Many providers are confronting excessive government audits and delays in reimbursement payments.  Furthermore, the Medicare program is expanding the flawed, so-called competitive bidding program, and wheelchair providers have seen their reimbursement rates in Medicare cut by more than 35 percent over the last five years.

"There have been a number of significant changes in recent years to Medicare policies, and many businesses can't endure any more financial risk and continue to offer quality products and services to Medicare beneficiaries," said Annie Nation, owner of Scooters Unlimited in Plano, Texas.   "Clearly, there is a serious disconnect with the Washington policy makers.  They don't realize that the transition to a rental policy for power wheelchairs is a dramatic change for providers and that we need more time to make this work. Hopefully, Congress will act in the next few days and g
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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