Monday, June 23, 2008

Medicare Action Alert

National Spinal Cord Injury Assocation Needs Your Help...

  • Act Today to Preserve the First Month Purchase Option for Power Wheelchairs
  • Standard Power Wheelchairs are not "One Size Fits All"

A short window is open in which individuals can act to preserve the "first month purchase option" for power wheelchair users to help ensure that every wheelchair user has the correct equipment for his or her individual needs. Contact your Congressional Members and let them know you want to retain the right to choose!

Currently, when a supplier receives information from a person's doctor that a power wheelchair is needed, the supplier will meet with the individual to ensure the best power wheelchair is ordered, one which will meet all of the needs for the individual.

Medicare currently allows an individual to choose whether they want to purchase the power wheelchair that is right for their size, disability and home situation, or just to rent a power chair. Ninety-five percent of beneficiaries choose to purchase the power wheelchair because one size does not fit all.

If you are required to rent your power wheelchair, instead of having the option to purchase, complications likely to arise include the following:

  • • The supplier will provide you with the "type" of power wheelchair from their inventory of available rental items. It will not be ordered to your specifications;
  • • You may receive a new power wheelchair or you may receive a used power wheelchair during your rental period. This will be dependent upon the supplier's inventory at the time that the wheelchair is requested;
  • • The supplier retains ownership of the power wheelchair you are provided until a full 13 months of rental have been paid, at which time ownership of the power wheelchair is transferred to you;
  • • If you rent the power wheelchair for the full 13 months you, and the Medicare program, will pay 5% more for it than you would have if you had the option to purchase it in the first month;
  • • If you enter the hospital or a skilled nursing facility at any time during the 13 month rental period you do not have coverage for the power wheelchair during your inpatient stay. The supplier may pick the chair up, clean it and return it to their inventory for the next beneficiary that needs to rent a power wheelchair of that "type";
  • • If you still have a medical need for a power wheelchair upon discharge from the hospital or nursing home the supplier can deliver a power wheelchair back to you; however, there is no guarantee that you will receive the chair you have become accustomed to.

What can you do to preserve your right to choose? Call your Senators and Representative at 202-224-3121 and ask that they retain the first-month purchase option for power wheelchairs or allow the physician to make the determination as to when a rental or purchased power wheelchair will meet your medical needs. Maintaining the current policy of allowing you to purchase the equipment in the first month will ensure appropriate access to equipment and lower costs to you and the Medicare program. Allowing the physician to determine if there is a lifetime medical need (13 months or longer) will preserve access, ensure that medical needs are met and lower costs to the Medicare program and you.

You can copy and email the below letter or call your Senator.
JOHN F. KERRY, MA email to his aide Chris Dawe
Dear Senator Kerry;
Please keep the current legislation on Medicare provision to purchase a Power Wheelchair so that the current Medicare beneficiaries have the choice to rent or purchase their power wheelchair. Please keep all power wheelchairs available for purchase after the first month. If you limit power wheelchairs, you limit those of us that need 90% of all power wheelchairs purchased that we will own for life.

I am asking you to please consider recommendations that will retain this option and allow the beneficiary the option to purchase the equipment in the first month in order to ensure appropriate beneficiary access and lower costs to both Medicare beneficiaries and the Medicare program. Please allow our physicians who see us regularly to make the choice on our behalf.

Eliminating this option will limit access of power wheelchairs and to the people who most need mobility. Mobility is everything to a person with a disability, it could mean being able to get to your bathroom, do your dishes, answer the door, go to a doctor’s appointment and most of all live an independent life. Limiting mobility wills injure and harm those who are only asking to have the choice of mobility.


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Congressional switchboard number 202-224-3121US Senate Members Representative Members