Survey: Medicare Policies Hurting Mobility Providers, Beneficiaries

New Medicare policies concerning mobility equipment are hurting both the business owners who supply that equipment and the beneficiaries they serve, according to a survey by the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare).

AAHomecare said more than 125 businesses were contacted for the survey, making the results "the most extensive research to date on how companies are adjusting to the federal mandates." Survey results were released last week.

Among the Medicare policies negatively impacting mobility providers are the elimination of the first-month purchase option for consumer power chairs, and the implementation of the first round of competitive bidding, both of which began in January.

The survey also questioned providers about the effects of multiple types of audits and cumbersome documentation policies for mobility equipment.

AAHomecare reported that 65 percent of survey respondents said service to Medicare beneficiaries has been compromised because of Medicare policies, while 28 percent said their staffing levels had been affected.

Repair policies have changed at 48 percent of businesses who participated in the survey, while 45 percent of respondents said the area in which they service patients has changed.

AAHomecare CEO/President Tyler Wilson said, "These companies are frustrated by government policies that are creating obstacles to providing mobility assistance to Medicare beneficiaries. Yet, many companies are making adjustments in their business operations so that Medicare beneficiaries can continue to receive power wheelchairs."

Some survey respondents indicated they are no longer providing standard power chairs due to the changes this year in Medicare policies. Other participants said when determining whether or not to provide a standard power chair, they are being forced to evaluate whether the beneficiary is likely to survive the entire 13-month rental period now in force.

Wilson noted that many such "unintended consequences" are being caused by Medicare mobility policies and need to be addressed.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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