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Medicare Policy Changes Will Make it More Difficult for Nevada Beneficiaries to Obtain Power Wheelchairs
Date:11/5/2010

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Herrera said physicians prescribe power wheelchairs to patients needing assistance with critical daily activities, such as grooming, getting to the bathroom and preparing food. By continuing to perform these tasks in their homes with power wheelchairs, Herrera said it often delays the necessity of placing beneficiaries in expensive nursing homes.  Mobility assistance also reduces emergency room visits for Medicare patients, who are less likely to suffer injuries from falls.

Jason Turner, 43, of Las Vegas, said his power wheelchair has made a dramatic difference in his life. Turner, who has multiple sclerosis, said he has used a power chair for a dozen years.  "It is like getting my legs back," said Turner. "I can help my daughters with their homework; and I have the freedom and independence to go wherever I need to go."

Moreover, Turner said that he is relieved not to be a "burden" on anyone because he can do so many things for himself.  "I hope that power wheelchairs remain available for other Medicare beneficiaries," he said.  "Being mobile changes your life."

Madonna Long, formerly of Reno and Battle Mountain, recalled that her mother, Ruth Crosthwaite, began using a power wheelchair before she passed away.  "My mother had severe arthritis and could not push a manual wheelchair," said Long, who has been in a wheelchair herself since suffering injuries in a school bus accident as a teenager. "My wheelchair, and my mother's wheelchair, allowed us to live our lives, and continue to do the things that we love. It's important that other Medicare beneficiaries can also enjoy freedom and independence."

But in recent years, changes in Medicare policies have significantly impacted providers, hampering their ability to supply quality home medical equipment and services to Medicare beneficiaries. Over the last five years, the Medicare program has cut reimbursements for power wheelchairs by more than 35 percent. A
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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