‘They weren’t prepared for what they saw’

Monday, March 31, 2008

WASHINGTON – The Office of Inspector General (OIG) isn’t wasting time further investigating pricing for standard and power wheelchairs.
Shortly after releasing a damning report on pricing last year, OIG officials told industry officials that they planned to audit provider claims to determine the service-related costs for wheelchairs. It has already conducted a site visit with at least one rehab provider, industry sources said in February.
“I heard the OIG wasn’t prepared for what they saw, which is a good thing,” said Tim Pederson, chair of AAHomecare’s Rehab and Assistive Technology Council (RATC). “I think there’s more work that goes into providing power wheelchairs than they envisioned.”
In an October report, the OIG found that Medicare pricing was 45% higher, on average, than median Internet pricing for 28 codes. The industry criticized the report, saying that Medicare providers, unlike Internet retailers, must adhere to numerous standards and provide numerous services.
The industry plans to tackle the OIG audits from two angles, sources said.
“We want to say, ‘Geez guys, we’re glad you’re taking a look at us; come in and we’ll tell you what we’re all about,’ because we think it’ll be an eye opener for them,’” said Don Clayback, vice president of government affairs for The MED Group. “But we also have to be realistic. History tells us that the OIG doesn’t do these studies to say, ‘You’re doing a great job; you deserve more money.’” HME