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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

e effect on January 1, but providers, consumers groups, and Medicare patients have all asked Congress to delay implementation for one year so that providers can have time to adjust their business models to account for the cash flow problems created by the new policy.  Moreover, providers have volunteered to make the delay budget-neutral by accepting a one percent reduction to the Medicare consumer price index update to standard power wheelchairs.  

Meanwhile, criticism continues to mount against the bidding program. In September, bidding system experts and economists, including two Nobel laureates, sent a letter to Congress warning about major problems with Medicare's bidding system.  The experts predicted the system will fail, citing the fact that the bids are non-binding, the rules encourage unsustainable low-ball bids, the process distorts bids, and the program lacks transparency.  H.R. 3790, a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives with broad bipartisan support, would replace the bidding program with other cost saving measures but preserve patient access to mobility equipment.  Among the organizations asking that the bidding program be eliminated are the ALS Association, American Association of People with Disabilities, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Council on Independent Living, National Spinal Cord Injury Association, and United Spinal Association.  

"It is imperative that Congress take reasonable steps to ensure that people with disabilities and seniors have improved mobility and enjoy freedom and independence in our society," said Andy Curry, executive director of the Tri-County Independent Living Center in Ogden.  "Power wheelchairs make a tremendous difference in the lives of people who need them. We want Washington to better understand the negative impact that these polices will have in our communities."

Curry, for instance, noted that power wheelchairs help many Medicare patients to
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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