Groups Call For Action Against Medicare Power Equipment Cuts
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 11, 2006
WASHINGTON, DC--Disability groups have joined clinicians, along with makers and distributors of power wheelchairs and scooters, in condemning a change in Medicare reimbursement rates that they say will limit the independence of countless seniors and others with physical disabilities.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced this week that, effective November 15, it would be cutting Medicare reimbursement rates for such mobility equipment by between 21 and 41 percent, depending on the individual model.
Medicare now pays up to $6,130 for a typical power chair. That amount will be reduced to around $3,800. This would put the cost of power wheelchairs and scooters out of reach for most Medicare beneficiaries, the groups asserted.
The groups pointed out that CMS' cost cutting measures are "shortsighted" because Medicare beneficiaries with such equipment actually save the system millions of dollars over the long-term because they need less in-home care, hospitalization, and emergency room calls from falls.
In a press statement, Andrew Imparato, president and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities, said: "The Medicare mobility benefit as we knew it is gone."
Henry Claypool, an advocate from the Independence Care System, added: "Our message to Congress and CMS is that seniors and people living with disabilities should have access to medically appropriate wheelchairs."
Some manufacturers and distributors of power mobility equipment said the cuts will mean that they will have to close their doors.
"Now, they have gone too far," said Scott Meuser, CEO of mobility equipment manufacturer Pride USA. "Medicare is turning their backs on the people who need help the most."
"Press release -- Clinicians, Advocates Assail CMS Undermining of Wheelchair Access for Medicare Beneficiaries"
"Huge Cuts In Medicare Mobility Equipment Prices Will Restrict Access For Medicare Beneficiaries"
"Medicare cuts hurt disabled" (Washington Times)