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

access and quality of care issues as providers either struggle to make the significant changes to their business model to adapt to the new payment model or simply go out of business."  

The elimination of the first-month purchase option would add yet another financial burden on businesses that are already bracing for the economic fallout from the badly-flawed "competitive bidding" program that is also scheduled to begin January 1, 2011.  Home medical equipment providers have also endured price cuts of more than 35 percent over the last five years, lengthy delays in reimbursement payments by the Medicare program and excessive audits by the government.

Providers, consumer advocates and Medicare beneficiaries are bewildered as to why the government so often targets the Medicare mobility benefit when power wheelchairs greatly benefit Medicare patients, while, as the lawmakers stated in their letters, actually saving government funds.

Clearly, the policy change will have a direct impact on beneficiaries.  If, as expected, many providers no longer offer power wheelchairs or go out of business, Medicare patients will have a difficult time finding providers to fill their prescriptions for power mobility devices.  This will most dramatically impact rural areas of the country, which are already experiencing some delays.  

Moreover, patients who do receive power wheelchairs will likely have their prescriptions filled with used mobility devices that have been previously customized for other beneficiaries; thus these power wheelchairs may not function effectively for the new patient. In addition, the used power wheelchairs certainly won't have the lifespan of a new one. There are also serious concerns as to whether providers will be able to service the chairs or properly adjust them under a rental scenario that does not provide reimbursement for such services.

Consumer advocacy groups have joined providers in asking
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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