A recent two-week phone campaign by Pride Mobility Products resulted in more than 640 calls being placed to Capitol Hill in support of the first-month purchase option for power wheelchairs.
Pride’s sales force hit the phones to encourage providers to call their representatives and senators and urge those legislators to preserve the first-month purchase option. That option is in danger because President Bush’s 2009 budget request includes a proposal that would eliminate a beneficiary’s ability to buy his or her power chair in the first month of ownership. Instead, the budget request contains language that would order Medicare to rent the power chair for 13 months.
The 13-month rental proposal has been decried by organizations such as the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare), in part because suppliers would have to foot the entire bill for a beneficiary’s power chair up front, but then be reimbursed by Medicare only a bit at a time, over a long period.
In a Feb. 4 news release criticizing Bush’s proposed 2009 Medicare budget, AAHomecare President Tyler Wilson said of the 13-month rental plan, “In essence, the providers will become lending institutions for the federal government….The American Association for Homecare is concerned that if the first-month purchase option is eliminated, access to wheelchairs will decrease, since providers will not be able to secure the financing to cover the costs of the power wheelchair over a 13-month period.”