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Medicare Policy Changes Will Make it More Difficult for Nevada Beneficiaries to Obtain Power Wheelchairs

Fri, 11/05/2010 - 12:35pm
Bio-Medicine.Org

RENO, Nev., Nov. 5, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Will power wheelchairs continue to be available to Nevada's Medicare patients following a series of federal regulatory and policy changes?

There are grave concerns among consumer groups, Medicare beneficiaries and homecare equipment providers in Nevada that the changes in Medicare policies may severely hamper the ability of providers to supply quality products and services to beneficiaries.

One of the biggest threats is a new law establishing that the Medicare program will pay rental payments over a 13 month period to homecare equipment providers after they supply power wheelchairs to Medicare beneficiaries. The change will create significant cash flow problems for providers, who will be forced to purchase the equipment from manufacturers, and then receive reimbursement payments stretching over 13 months.  Previously, Medicare beneficiaries could request that the government purchase the equipment for them in the first month of use.

In addition, the Medicare program is expanding the flawed "competitive" bidding system. The program restricts the number of providers who can supply home medical equipment in selected geographical areas around the country, severely jeopardizing access to power wheelchairs for seniors and those living with physical disabilities.

"We fear that the Medicare mobility benefit won't be available for the people who need it because there won't be providers around to fill the power wheelchair prescriptions once doctors order them for their patients," said Corrie Herrera, rural director for the Northern Nevada Center for Independent Living in Elko, Nevada. "Our organization, as well as others across the state who represent people living with disabilities, feel that the Washington policymakers don't understand how much a power wheelchair means to the people who need them. We must ensure that Medicare patients continue to have access to this equipment." <

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