Federal study on power wheelchairs.
In "Power Wheelchairs in the Medicare Program: Supplier Acquisition Costs and Services," a study dated August 2009, the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) ignored the substantial costs of services related to providing power wheelchairs, including complex rehab, to seniors and people with disabilities who require mobility assistance, according to the American Association for Homecare (AAH).
The association believes the study is disappointing and misleading. OIG admits it did not account for services involved in providing and maintaining properly adjusted power wheelchairs to Medicare beneficiaries in their homes. The study notes, "We did not determine the cost of performing these services or other general supplier business expenses such as billing, accreditation, staff salaries, or facility maintenance."
The OIG report does not account for the cost of the 26 federally mandated supplier standards that are required of home medical equipment firms that participate in Medicare. Compliance with those standards is a significant cost driver for power-chair providers.
AAH President Tyler Wilson says, "This study, unfortunately, perpetuates the myth that suggests [you] could order a power chair and have it dropped at your front door. The study glosses over the level of care, service, and professionalism that an accredited home medical provider would furnish directly to a senior or person with a disability."
Over the past five years, Congress has reduced power-chair pricing by more than 35%, reports AAH. Economic conditions, rising prices, and lower Medicare rates have taken a heavy toll on the power-mobility community, resulting in layoffs and contractions in the power-mobility sector.
"The association believes it is inappropriate for OIG to infer that providers are making significant high profits," says Wilson. "We stand ready to work with OIG to conduct a more thorough and useful analysis of the service-related costs of providing power wheelchairs to Medicare beneficiaries."
AAH represents durable medical equipment (DME) providers, manufacturers, and other organizations in the homecare community. AAH members operate more than 3,000 locations in all 50 states.