Thursday, April 29, 2010

ABC Affiliate Airs Story on Wheelchair Denial Story

70 year old Chuck Robinson, a 25 year resident of Yucca Valley became wheelchair bound 5 years ago after he suffered a stroke. After losing a leg in a motor cycle accident more than a decade ago, doctors amputated his other leg following the stroke and he lost use of his right hand. If it wasn't for his battery powered wheel chair, Chuck hates to think where he might be. "I'd probably be in a hospital ward; wanting to die." Said Chuck.

Chuck wouldn't be mobile if it hadn't been for Esta Willman. She owns Medi-Source Equipment and Supply. Two years ago she put Chuck in his current wheelchair at the risk she wouldn't see a dime on a $4,500 Medicare claim. That's because Chuck wore out his previous chair too fast. "When we contacted Medicare we learned he had been provided the power chair 3 years before. Medicare has a rule that equipment should be expected to last 5 years. It hadn't been five years." Said Willman.

And if it wasn't bad enough the claim got denied, once Willman filed an appeal, things took a turn for the worse. "Not only that, that the patient that the claim, the case was being referred to the Medicare Program Safeguard contractor for an investigation of patient culpable neglect." Said Willman. In other words, Medicare wanted to see if Chuck mis-used and abused his equipment. Granted he put a strain on it, but it was all about remaining independent. "He's using his chair 24 hours a day. Inside, outside, everywhere, because he has no legs to move him anywhere any other way." Said Willman.

Willman says after repeatedly contacting Medicare she has yet the hear back on the status of the investigation. In the meantime , she's not worried about recouping her money at this point. Chuck has become almost family. "We can't turn our back on him. He's not a charity case, but he's a human being. We live here so we do what we can. Sorry getting all choked up." Said Willman. Chuck added. "She's a sweetheart, a good woman and smart as hell."

News Channel 3 contacted Medicare about this case. We were told Chuck Robinson's claim was denied because the original chair it paid for was so severely damaged it was beyond repair. The good news, Medicare says Chuck Robinson is entitled to a new chair in June.

The story can be found at:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's understandable that Medicare has rules, but rules are made to be broken in certain cases. This is disgusting that Medicare wouldn't pay for a new wheelchair. Those in power should be ashamed of themselves.