Monday, June 22, 2009

House Bill Would End First-Month Purchase Option for Power Wheelchairs

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.


David Heaton - Houston, Texas said...

When is AAHomecare going to learn that the organization needs to quit coming up with reasons not to move forward with Obama's health reform plan. I'm not aware of too many home medical equipment items that are purchased in the first month of delivery so why would this be any different? After all, it was the power wheelchair item that caused all of the home medical equipment fraud to begin with. AAHomecare should read a page from the drug companies handbook who recently negotiated a way to help cover costs that Medicare was not willing to incur. Their strategy has now dictated that the drug manufacturer industry is able to work with the reform plan, not constantly fight it. Which in turn, should keep Congress off of their back when more cuts need to be made. AAHomecare is doing nothing to show the current administration that coverage for home medical equipment items need to increase in order to help save more expensive costs such as hospital stays, skilled nursing visits and the like. AAHomecare keeps eluding to the fact that home medical equipment is the smallest expense regarding the current Medicare program, yet has the inability to convince anyone that maybe additions in coverage should be included, such as bathroom equipment or safety support mechanisms or even items that help enable a beneficiary to function or move outside of their residence for higher quality of life. The Centers for Medicare Services do nothing to discourage power wheelchair or scooter advertisers that their items can help them live a more mobile life outside of their home. (Even though CMS makes it perfectly clear that functional use outside the home has nothing to do with benefit coverage eligibility) Have you ever seen one of the power wheelchair or scooter commercials show a person using their equipment exclusively inside the home? No! They are always in the park or the store or somewhere else other than their home. Why not use this to the industrys advantage through negotiations instead of constant appeals not to do something that will be inevitable if home medical equipment providers don't change their strategy?

Anonymous said...

This bill should be thrown out because Power-chairs make up such a small portion of medicare reimbursements and will sink companies who get by off of powerchair payments. We only have 60 days to pay back dme manufacturers so we will be losing money for quite some time!

Anonymous said...

why can't we DME companies team up with the MMA which includes the hospitals fighting for thier reimbursements etc. We need to pay into an organization that pays to fight for our rights. Too many DME companies do not work together because they are only concerned with their local competition. Our business has taken a beating and it is sad that the good companies and i FEEL THERE ARE ALOT OF US OUT THERE WHO PROVIDE GREAT SERVICE AND ARE A WELCOME TO OUR COMMUNITIES. The bad companies exist in south florida and Ihate to say this but those companies are not american born companies. If they were not born here screw them they only steal from our government and flee back to their native countries. Our business is not like any business in america. Most people have no idea that the government canpay on an item today and after 7 years of new medical review thay can take moeny back and or extrapolate. We cannot run our businesses on a 20 percent markup. We would not exist. i also sell golf shirts as another business and if the publicnew that we buy them Nike shirts for 4.95 apiece and seell them for 65.00 they would be pissed but the medical industry is the focal point of saving money. Nothing we seel is made in america. Wake up government and get off your asses and make correct changes. Don't beat up our industry anymore or I too will be in the unemployment line collecting my government fundedcheck