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Mobility Matters: Power Wheelchairs Change the Lives of Medicare Beneficiaries
Date:11/1/2010

her power wheelchair: "My wheelchair has meant everything to me.  It means so much when people are able to gain more freedom and independence from mobility assistance."

Around the country, there are thousands of power wheelchair users who are just as thankful to Medicare for providing the mobility assistance they depend on. But in Washington, it certainly seems that the Medicare mobility benefit is undervalued. Far too often, when Congress or the Administration searches for budget cuts, the Medicare mobility benefit is the target. It's unfair that some of the most vulnerable Americans—senior citizens and people living with disabilities, bear more than their share of sacrifices.

Due to a series of pricing, policy and regulatory changes, there is widespread concern about whether power wheelchairs will continue to be available for Medicare patients after their doctors prescribe mobility assistance. There also could be lengthy delays before wheelchairs are delivered.

These circumstances will result from decisions to eliminate a Medicare patient's right to have a new power wheelchair purchased for them in the first month that they receive it and a badly flawed procurement "bidding" program that will reduce the number of providers in specific locations rather than create competition. Many home medical equipment providers and consumer advocates have asked Congress to take steps to ensure that these policy changes won't restrict Medicare patients' access to power wheelchairs.

If prescriptions for power wheelchairs can't be filled in a timely fashion, it's clear that many Medicare beneficiaries, people like Keli Babcock, as well as senior citizens and patients with medical conditions that severely limit their mobility, will suffer in the future.  Thousands of Americans depend on their Medicare power wheelchairs. Power wheelchairs can prevent Medicare beneficiaries from suffering injuries from falls, delay placements in expensive nu
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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