Friday, July 10, 2009

Consumer Groups Urge Congress to Preserve First-month Purchase Option

Letters urging preservation of the first month purchase option were sent to key committees of jurisdiction over Medicare by several consumer groups in recent weeks. A letter from the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) explained that “power wheelchairs are customized products that are only provided to individuals with significant mobility limitations and medical needs following an evaluation and delivery process due to the diverse needs of each individual, they are not commodity-type items that are inventoried.”

Similar letters describing the importance of the first-month purchase option were sent by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Clinician Task Force, the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association, the Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid Coalition, and the National Council on Independent Living.

The American Association for Homecare has expressed concerns as well stating, “The elimination of the first-month purchase option will diminish access to power wheelchairs for people with a defined medical need. In the current fiscal environment, financial institutions will not extend lines of credit to power wheelchair providers to cover the up-front costs of furnishing costly equipment. If homecare providers do not have access to capital and are unable to secure financing, providers will not be able to provide items and services to these Medicare beneficiaries. The negative result of providers having restricted access to capital and lines of credit is that Medicare beneficiaries will not have access to the most appropriate product to address their medical needs.”

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