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WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by Madonna Long, who has spent decades working on behalf of people living with disabilities, and who is a consumer advocate for Pride Mobility Products Corp.:

I have been in a wheelchair since being severely injured in a school bus accident as a teenager.  For many people like me who live full lives with physical disabilities, the durable medical equipment provider who supplies mobility devices is one of the most trusted people in our lives. The equipment and service they provide keep us out of hospitals and nursing homes.

So it's frustrating to see unfair accusations leveled at these providers.  A small group of criminals who have posed as legitimate equipment providers have tainted the reputations of the many dedicated, hard-working wheelchair providers, like the ones I know. The bad guys, who are scamming the Medicare system, aren't part of the durable medical equipment community; they are criminals who deserve to be locked up.

The media often focuses on the price that Medicare pays to provide power wheelchairs to its beneficiaries, but reporters frequently overlook the fact that the cost of mobility assistance is determined by a patient's functional needs and the specific equipment and accessories required to address their unique physical conditions.  Furthermore, the people who get power wheelchairs from Medicare don't have them to cruise to the shopping mall. They can't walk. The power wheelchair brings back their mobility. Oftentimes, it is the difference between living independently and being confined to a nursing home or other care facility.    

It has been 30 years since I became a member of the wheelchair club. My life is no joyride.  My manual wheelchair is a necessity. When I get out of bed in the morning, it helps me safely begin my day.  I have to transfer from the bed to the wheelchair, and with one wro

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