WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A group of 22 bipartisan House Members yesterday wrote to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) asking the agency to stop their prepayment review project that could limit access to mobility assistance for Medicare beneficiaries.
The lawmakers, who included Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) and Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY), cited potential job losses, restricted access to mobility equipment for Medicare patients and lack of sufficient notice among the reasons for CMS to halt the ill-conceived project.
CMS wants to require "prepayment review" for all Medicare power wheelchair claims in seven states – California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and Texas – starting January 2, 2012. This will affect nearly half of all Medicare beneficiaries who require power mobility. Stakeholders representing clinicians, people living with disabilities, and providers of power wheelchairs were all stunned by the November 15th announcement of the program.
In a letter to Marilyn Tavenner, the CMS acting administrator, the lawmakers said that while they applaud the agency's efforts to fight waste and abuse, they cited several major drawbacks to the prepayment program, including the broad scope of the project and the minimal notice given to affected stakeholders.
"…we have many concerns with enacting a demonstration project of this size with minimal notice to the affected stakeholders," the lawmakers wrote. "Such a project could result in significant job losses and jeopardize seniors' access to this important Medicare benefit."
The lawmakers noted that Congress and CMS have already significantly reduced pricing for power mobility devices, increased program integrity requirements for Medicare suppliers, enacted a competitive bidding program and a year ago converted standard power wheelchairs to a 13-month rental system, which is requi