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Congress Urged to Delay New Medicare Wheelchair Rental Policy
Date:11/9/2010

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Across the country, thousands of senior citizens and people living with physical disabilities are concerned about whether they can maneuver well enough in their homes to groom themselves, prepare meals and get to the bathroom.

These basic tasks are often difficult for those in need of mobility assistance, medical devices that can help them move around the house. For Medicare beneficiaries in need of mobility assistance, the lame-duck session of Congress will be critical in determining whether many can age gracefully in their homes or will need to be placed in nursing homes or other facilities because their physical limitations compromise their safety.

The Medicare mobility benefit allows beneficiaries to receive power wheelchairs to help perform the daily necessities of living in their homes, but that option is in jeopardy unless Congress acts quickly to delay implementation of a new policy that would eliminate a patient's right to have Medicare pay for a power wheelchair in the first month it is obtained.

On the surface, the change from a first-month purchase option to a 13-month rental may appear minor. But it will be a severe jolt to power wheelchair providers, especially those that are small businesses.  Many home medical equipment providers say they will be forced to go out of business or to no longer offer power wheelchairs. Today's porous economic climate is partly to blame: banks and other lenders are largely refusing to provide loans and lines of credit to businesses so they can purchase power wheelchairs from manufacturers before they are specially fitted for each Medicare beneficiary.

In better economic times when credit is more readily available for businesses, the policy change might not be so devastating.  But today, this change threatens not only to delay or prevent Medicare patients from receiving mobility assistance that their physicians have prescr
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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