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Survey Finds Mobility Providers Struggling to Adjust to New Medicare Policies and Regulations
Date:4/11/2011

ive power wheelchairs."

Wilson said the business owners provided valuable insight into how the actions taken by lawmakers and bureaucrats are impacting providers and Medicare beneficiaries. Furthermore, Wilson asserted that the government polices are yielding many unintended consequences that must be addressed, including forcing providers to "cherry-pick" the Medicare beneficiaries they can afford to assist, while others may go without mobility assistance. These new burdens, he said, are taking a toll on home medical equipment providers, whose frustrations are evidenced in the survey responses.    

Mark Nice, of Central Medical Equipment Company, in Harrisburg, Pa., said that while government reimbursements for power wheelchairs have declined, administrative costs are increasing.  

"We now need more inventory and have to wait to recoup our expenses," he said. "I now need to have a person call every rental each month and check on status…This will possibly lead to hiring another billing clerk and an additional service tech at a time when reimbursement has been severely impacted."

Moreover, Nice said the policy changes will hamper Medicare patients. "Patients will now be given the minimum equipment," he said, adding that adjustments for leg length, arm height and seat to floor height likely won't be made because the priority will be on issuing wheelchairs that are already in a company's inventory. Nice also noted that the cheaper equipment that will now be provided to Medicare customers will be lower quality than was previously available, will likely need more repairs and may not even last the five year period before beneficiaries are allowed to replace it.  

The 13-month rental policy, which was shrouded with controversy, was implemented because the government contended Medicare beneficiaries might die shortly after receiving mobility assistance. The change was made despite studies by the largest providers s
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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