New U.S. Map Tallies Medicare Beneficiary Complaints
- By Laurie Watanabe
- Aug 15, 2014
As a complex rehab technology (CRT) provider, a seating & mobility clinician or a DME provider working with Medicare, are you getting more unhappy phone calls than usual from Medicare beneficiaries?
Medicare's competitive bidding program for DME and layers of DME audits — in addition to the shuttering of The Scooter Store, which has left huge numbers of its former customers desperately seeking equipment repairs — has made it tougher for beneficiaries to access the services and equipment needed to safely and independently age in place.
Anecdotally, the healthcare professionals working with this patient population might be thinking that they're getting more calls than usual from beneficiaries and their family members who are confused or frustrated by Medicare's DME and CRT policies.
Now, thanks to a new resource from People for Quality Care (PFQC), you can track actual complaints from beneficiaries across the country.
By clicking on a product category — ranging from oxygen to scooters, manual and power wheelchairs, walkers and beds — viewers of the new "Medicare map" can see how many complaints PFQC have logged by state.
By clicking on a specific state on the map, viewers can also read summaries of beneficiary complaints.
For instance, the scooter-related complaints from New York beneficiaries include one from "Arlene," a patient: "Patient is having trouble with her scooter and is unable to get it serviced because of the changes made in Medicare." Another patient, Joan, filed a complaint with PFQC that says, "Caller has a broken scooter and can't find a provider who will fix it for her."
In California, a patient named Ephrain "is having difficulty finding a contracted provider to repair wheelchair," while Rachel, a healthcare provider, complained that she "works in a rehab facility and is trying to get wheelchair for her 88-year-old patient. After weeks of being run-around, the approved provider admitted they were overwhelmed and it would be a while until [the beneficiary] receives [the wheelchair]."
As this story went to press in mid August, PFQC had logged nearly 3,300 individual Medicare-related complaints in its system.
In an e-mail conversation with Mobility Management, Lalaina Rabary, communications & marketing specialist for PFQC, said of the ongoing project, "The map primarily shows the effects of competitive bidding, but many DME issues contribute as well, i.e., audits. Many consumers have called, but we need to reach more."
Medicare beneficiaries, their family members and caregivers, and healthcare professionals can log their complaints via PFQC's "Dear Medicare" Web page. Via that page, beneficiaries can also indicate if they'd like their stories shared with members of Congress.
Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.