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

t the same time, the providers are experiencing excessive government audits and extended delays in reimbursement payments.

The new rental reimbursement policy will slash providers' cash-on-hand by 40 percent in the first year. Because of the struggling economy, providers are unable to obtain loans or credit lines that would allow them to purchase power wheelchairs from manufacturers and do the necessary servicing so that Medicare beneficiaries have properly-adjusted equipment.  Many Medicare patients would receive chairs stored in warehouses that haven't been specially fitted to address the individual needs of the patients.

Consumer groups, providers, and Medicare patients are asking Congress to delay implementation of the new policy from January 1, 2011 to January 1, 2012.  The extra year would allow providers time to adjust their business models. The delay wouldn't increase Medicare spending because providers would agree to a one-percent reduction in reimbursement rates for standard power wheelchairs.

Meanwhile, the bidding program for home medical equipment and services is scheduled to take effect in nine metropolitan areas in January 2011. An additional 91 areas will start preparing for the bidding program later in 2011, including locations in Nevada.

Yet, in September 166 bidding system experts and economists, including two Nobel laureates, sent a letter to Congress warning about major problems with the bidding system.  The experts concluded that the system will fail, citing the fact that the bids are non-binding, the rules encourage unsustainable low-ball bids, the design distorts bids and the program lacks transparency.  H.R. 3790, the bill in the House of Representatives with broad bipartisan support, would replace the bidding program with other types of cost savings but preserve patient access to mobility equipment.  Organizations that favor elimination of this bidding program include the ALS Associat
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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