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

howing that between 86 percent and 94 percent of Medicare patients lived longer than 13 months after receiving a power wheelchair.  Now, because of the policy, many businesses are in the unfair position of rationing medical equipment that has been prescribed for Medicare patients by their physicians. Small businesses, in particular, are impacted because many only provide a few power wheelchairs a year.

"Unfortunately, I have to consider the longevity of the patient prior to a power chair order," said Glenn Steinke, of Air-Way Medical, in Bishop, CA.  "If the patient may not live through the rental cap, I will have to take back a very used chair. What will I do with it then?"

Other providers acknowledged that they have to carefully select customers who are less likely to need extensive repairs on their chairs.  "I have reduced the amount of chairs I will provide…" said one business owner, who asked not to be identified. "I have to say 'no' to certain patients that I know will be heavy users of the products that can cost me a lot in repairs."

Nancy Oyen, of Finley Hartig Homecare, in Dubuque, IA., added: "Several of our competitors are no longer doing electric wheelchairs. We only do basic power wheelchairs - no rehab.  We find out patient history before accepting a patient, trying to determine where they will be living in 12 months and overall medical condition to determine if they will be alive throughout 12 months."

But a provider in the Charlotte, N.C. area, who asked not to be identified, said she is leaving the business altogether. Over the past three years, she said her company has suffered through a 30% decrease in earnings due to Medicare cuts and the sluggish economy.

"We are no longer offering Medicare power chairs at all," she said. "We simply can't afford to buy high quality, new equipment and put it out under the current rental arrangement.  Medicare beneficiaries want new equipment and
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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