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Medicare Policies Restricting Power Wheelchair Repairs Leave Vulnerable Beneficiaries with Limited Mobility
Date:7/26/2013

ental period. Other bid winners in the area can fix the chair, but they aren't required to, which is why, with The SCOOTER Store out of business, Welch can't find anyone to fix his chair.

Letizia and other industry representatives met with CMS in the spring to discuss repair issues after The SCOOTER Store, formerly the nation's largest supplier of power wheelchairs, closed its doors and left thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, such as Welch, without a place to turn for repairs when their equipment breaks down.

He said the group was dissatisfied with the response from CMS. The group was told that repairs were not a problem because CMS was not auditing documentation paperwork on them. "But that could change at any time, so that wasn't a satisfactory answer," Letizia said. "Providers aren't going to start doing repairs without proper documentation, risk being audited later, and not get paid or be ordered to return payments."

So the repair situation remains unresolved, potentially leaving thousands of the most vulnerable Americans with extremely limited mobility and independence.

Major problems, like with wheelchair repairs, continue to plague the bidding program that procures HME, such as oxygen tanks, hospital beds, and diabetic testing supplies, for beneficiaries.

One of the most significant problems is that the program allows non-binding bids, which means that providers can submit unrealistically low bids that are then used to calculate the prices for products and services, but the bidders do not have to commit to signing contracts for the amounts of their bids. Yet, these bids are still used in the formula that sets prices.

Earlier this year, when CMS announced an average 45 percent price cut for most HME items and 72 percent for diabetic testing supplies, many providers were '/>"/>

SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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