Medicare Mobility Benefit Cuts Will Restrict Access For Beneficiaries Says Scooter Store

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Price cuts on scooters and power wheelchairs could put power mobility equipment suppliers out of business, cause lay-offs throughout the industry.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) recently announced that reimbursements will be cut by up to 41% for most power wheelchairs. According to The SCOOTER Store these cuts will seriously affect senior citizens and people living with physical impairments. Simply put, the CMS decision jeopardizes whether mobility equipment can be provided through Medicare in the future.

"These cuts are devastating and unwarranted,” said Doug Harrison, founder and CEO of The SCOOTER Store, America’s largest supplier of power mobility equipment. “This is a disturbing blow to every senior citizen and person in America living with mobility impairments. We hope CMS is aware that suppliers across the country cannot afford to provide adequate power wheelchairs to Medicare beneficiaries if government reimbursements are cut by up to 41%."

Mr. Harrison noted that the reimbursement reduction would force many providers out of business and cause significant job losses for suppliers and manufacturers. The CMS decision creates a climate in which durable medical suppliers must shift to other products, leaving senior citizens and Americans with disabilities without a source to obtain power wheelchairs and scooters.

The company also expressed concern that CMS is cutting reimbursements at the same time that it is asking suppliers to expend more resources for accreditation, certification, and new quality standards. Over the past 18 months, CMS has implemented regulations that have made prescribing and providing power mobility to beneficiaries much more onerous for both physicians and suppliers. “If CMS wants to take costs out of the system, they should work with physicians and suppliers to streamline the prescription and documentation process for qualified suppliers,” Mr. Harrison said. "This would allow us to charge less for our products and services."

Moreover, Mr. Harrison also noted that members of Congress should be concerned that by reducing usage of the mobility benefit, CMS will actually be costing taxpayers significantly more money. CMS says that utilization of the mobility benefit has increased by 2,700% over the last eight years. Studies show that the federal government has saved more than ten billion dollars over the same time period because people with power wheelchairs and scooters are living independently, require less homecare and hospitalization, and visit hospital emergency rooms fewer times due to falls and fall related injuries.

The reimbursement cuts will limit any future savings from providing mobility equipment to Medicare beneficiaries.

In total, Mr. Harrison said studies show that among people with identical ailments, those without power wheelchairs and scooters required treatment and care that cost 2 1/2 times the price of mobility equipment. Specifically, Medicare pays $14,000 more per person for beneficiaries with physical impairments who did not receive mobility equipment.

"Unfortunately, CMS appears to be taking a shortsighted approach that is bad for senior citizens, bad for people living with physical impairments and bad for the taxpayers of this country," Mr. Harrison said. "We hope CMS recognizes power mobility equipment as an essential Medicare benefit. Seniors and disabled Americans should have every right to quality mobility devices, such as scooters and power wheelchairs, so they can maintain active living within their community and not be forced into institutional settings."

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Mark Leita
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