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Michigan Seniors and Disabled Population Face Restricted Access to Power Wheelchairs Unless Congress Stops New Medicare Program
Date:12/20/2011

DETROIT, Dec. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Advocates working with the disability and aged communities in Michigan are urging the state's U.S. Senators and House members to help stop a Medicare change that would restrict Michigan beneficiaries from receiving power wheelchairs prescribed by their physicians.

Seven states, including Michigan, were chosen by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for a prepayment review demonstration project.

The program will cause a delay of up to 16 months or more before Michigan's home medical equipment providers can be fully reimbursed for purchasing power wheelchairs and providing the equipment to Medicare beneficiaries.

But consumer advocates and providers are asking Congress to stop the program because it will disrupt service to Medicare beneficiaries. Many providers say the long delay for reimbursements will force their companies out of business, creating significant delays in filling power wheelchair prescriptions for Medicare patients who are in dire need of mobility assistance.

"This is a direct attack on some of the most vulnerable people in our society," said Mike Zelley, President of The Disability Network in Flint, MI.  "Senior citizens and people living with disabilities need power wheelchairs to live independently in their homes and to delay confinement in expensive care facilities and nursing homes.  Congress cannot allow CMS to restrict access to medical equipment that has been prescribed by physicians so that these Medicare beneficiaries can improve their mobility and enjoy a better life."

Zelley said that with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) on the Senate Finance Committee and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) on the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, "Michigan seniors and people living with disabilities have public officials to fight for them." Zelley said the state's disability and aged communities are depending on the state's U.S. Senators a
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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