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Power Wheelchair Brings Independence and Hope to Man with Complications Due to Spina Bifida
Date:8/9/2012

Studies show that power wheelchairs actually reduce government health spending because Medicare patients have fewer falls and hospital emergency room visits with power wheelchairs. The mobility devices also delay placement in costly care facilities.

Yet, over the last nine years, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has repeatedly implemented a series of policy and regulation changes making it more difficult for Medicare beneficiaries to receive power wheelchairs prescribed by their physicians.  At the same time, home medical equipment providers have faced devastating cuts in reimbursements for power wheelchairs, excessive audits, and other policies that jeopardize their ability to continue providing the medical devices.

"Senior citizens and people living with physical disabilities clearly benefit from power wheelchairs, but CMS and Congress repeatedly adopt policies that restrict use of the Medicare power mobility benefit," said Tyler Wilson, (no relation to Ryan), who is president and CEO of the American Association for Homecare. "This increases government spending by driving Medicare patients into expensive nursing homes and other care facilities.  The government has to get smarter about health care policy."

The latest threat to the benefit comes from CMS' plan to implement a demonstration program that will subject all claims for power mobility to a prior authorization process for a period of three years in California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New York, North Carolina and Texas.  Medicare patients in these states receive nearly 50 percent of the power mobility prescribed annually to beneficiaries.

While stakeholders, such as physicians, providers and disability advocates, generally support the prior authorization program, most steadfastly insist that it include a clinical template that physicians can use to precisely provide the information that CMS seeks to document patients' medical need for pow
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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