A discussion draft of a healthcare reform bill released last week by House Democrats would eliminate the first-month purchase option for all power wheelchairs. The American Association for Homecare has strongly opposed the elimination of that choice and urges providers and consumers to ask Congress to preserve that choice.
While there was no cut to oxygen mentioned in the House bill, AAHomecare believes that a cut will emerge later in the legislative process as a way of paying for health reform. The Association believes a similar threat of reductions in oxygen reimbursement exists in Senate proposals.
In hopes of delaying the inevitable protests from affected healthcare sectors, legislators in both the House and Senate have not tipped their hands about all of their proposed cuts and financing options. Oxygen and wheelchair users should weigh in on this issue with their Senators and Representatives in Washington. It’s important for patients as well as providers to speak up in opposition to these cuts.
Power wheelchairs were cut by approximately 26 percent in 2007 and incurred another cut of 9.5 percent, effective January 1, 2009 as a result of the delay to competitive bidding. Remember that home medical equipment is one of the slowest-growing sectors of Medicare in terms of spending (0.75 percent annually in 2007) and is cost-effective, preferred by patients, and good home-based care achieves a chief goal for health reform through fewer re-hospitalizations.