WASHINGTON, April 11, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A survey of home medical equipment companies released today found that many businesses providing power wheelchairs to Medicare beneficiaries have made abrupt changes in their operations to comply with new federal policies.  But the regulatory changes have made it difficult for some businesses to provide quality products and service to Medicare patients.    

The American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) said more than 125 businesses across the country were contacted for the survey, providing the most extensive research to date on how companies are adjusting to the federal mandates. These include the controversial competitive bidding process for most home medical equipment, replacing a first-month purchase option with a 13-month rental program for power wheelchairs, as well as other factors, such as extensive government audits and confusing guidelines for documenting medical necessity for mobility assistance.  

Many providers reported negative consequences ranging from planning lay-offs, no longer offering power wheelchairs and going out of business to the need to find additional warehouse space for used equipment and struggles to perform repairs for some patients.

Specifically, the survey found that:

  • 65 percent said their ability to service Medicare beneficiaries has been compromised
  • 48 percent said their repair policy has changed
  • 45 percent said the area in which they service patients has changed
  • 28 percent said their level of staffing has been impacted.  

"These companies are frustrated by government policies that are creating obstacles to providing mobility assistance to Medicare beneficiaries," said Tyler Wilson, CEO and president of AAHomecare. "Yet, many companies are making adjustments in their business operations so that Medicare beneficiaries can continue to rece