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Utah's Seniors and People with Disabilities Will Feel Impact of Medicare Policy Changes that Restrict Access to Power Wheelchairs
Date:10/14/2010

SALT LAKE CITY, Oct. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Changes in government policies and regulations may restrict access to power wheelchairs for Medicare beneficiaries in Utah, while forcing some homecare equipment providers out of business or to no longer offer power mobility assistance. Providers, consumer groups, and Medicare patients are asking Congress to ensure that mobility equipment remains available.

The policies jeopardizing access for seniors and those living with physical disabilities to mobility equipment include a new law that ends the first month purchase option for Medicare patients, as well as expansion of the flawed "competitive bidding" process that actually limits the number of providers who can supply homecare medical equipment in geographical areas.

Jay Broadbent, CEO of Salt Lake City-based Alpine Home Medical, noted that these changes are coming at a time when power mobility providers are already experiencing excessive government audits, delays in reimbursement payments, and reimbursement cuts of more than 35 percent over the last five years.

"Providers are at the point where we can't endure any more financial pressure and continue to offer quality products and services to Medicare beneficiaries," said Broadbent. "There has to be a realization in Washington that the fallout from the competitive bidding fiasco and elimination of the first-month purchase option is going to have a major impact on Medicare beneficiaries.  There simply are not going to be enough providers left standing to supply them with mobility equipment."

By eliminating the option for the first-month purchase, the government plans to pay providers rental payments over the first 13 months that a patient has the equipment. But with credit tight in the sluggish economy, most providers can't obtain the lines of credits and loans they need to afford the upfront cost of purchasing power wheelchairs from manufacturers. The measure is scheduled to tak
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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