The print edition of New York’s Newsday today included AAHomecare’s response to a Sept. 16 story, “Obama: Congress should let panel set Medicare payments.” The story included several misleading statements about home medical equipment and services such as wheelchairs.
The article suggested that lobbying has prevented reductions in Medicare payments for these items. The reality is that Congress delayed a competitive bid program in 2008 after countless problems in the bid process emerged and it became clear that the vast majority of providers would have been denied permission to continue serving Medicare beneficiaries, even if they agreed to new, lower reimbursement rates. The home medical equipment sector took a 9.5 percent cut this year in order to pay for every dime the bidding program had been projected to save taxpayers.
Also, the data used in the August 2009 Inspector General report on wheelchair payments, mentioned in the article, is from 2007. Since then, Medicare rates have dropped dramatically. The report focused on acquisition cost to the supplier, which is only a fraction of the total cost of providing a properly adjusted power wheelchair to Medicare beneficiaries in their homes. That study perpetuates the myth that a person with MS, spinal cord injury, or other serious condition can order a power wheelchair and have it dropped off the back of a truck at their front door, ready to use.
Home-based care made possible by durable medical equipment and services is part of the solution to rising healthcare costs. It’s not the problem.
To read the article AAHomecare responded to, visit: http://www.newsday.com/news/health/obama-congress-should-let-panel-set-medicare-payments-1.1454600