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

ibed, but will terminate many jobs in communities where unemployment is already approaching 10 percent or more.

Just before the congressional recess, members of the House and Senate signed letters asking the chairs and ranking members of key committees to support a one-year delay in implementing the change. By delaying the implementation date from January 1, 2011 to January 1, 2012, it would give providers the time they need to adjust their business models to a sudden reduction in their cash-flow.  The delay wouldn't increase Medicare spending because the cost would be offset by a one-percent reduction in reimbursement rates for standard power wheelchairs.

In their letter, which was signed by 44 of their House colleagues, Reps. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) reiterated that "providers unable to secure financing and prepare for this substantial change in reimbursement policy will be unable to continue to provide power wheelchairs, resulting in a loss of jobs, economic revenue, and beneficiary access to a physician-prescribed power wheelchair."  

The bipartisan letter also underscored how power wheelchairs benefit Medicare patients, as well as the taxpayers.  

"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 lawmakers wrote. "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."

In the Senate, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) wrote a similar letter signed by six of his colleagues warning that "absent a delay in implementation, this change will create significant
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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