Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Beep Beep

The scooter industry may be in trouble.

Medicare officials have agreed to lessen the proposed cuts in reimbursement rates for power wheelchairs and scooters, particularly for equipment used by the most severely disabled.

The new rates announced today will take effect Nov. 15. The changes are part of an effort to combat fraud and ensure Medicare beneficiaries have access to the appropriate wheelchair or scooter, said Jeff Nelligan, a spokesman at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

If valid, I have a real problem with this line particularly for equipment used by the most severely disabled. At this point I cannot say if this is editorializing or based in fact.

There are plenty of abuses by "big business", particularly where a mostly unaccountable third party is the payor. I know some carriers in the Med Supp business that limit their payment on scooters. Otherwise everyone on Medicare would have a scooter (and some days it seems like everyone does).

The changes sought by federal officials come after a 2004 study showed that Medicare reimbursements for certain power wheelchairs were far higher than the prices paid by consumers and suppliers. Also, agency expenditures for the equipment jumped from $43 million to $1.2 billion in the eight years prior to the study.

A 28 fold jump over 8 years.

So much for government oversight if taxpayer dollars . . .
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