‘We’re growing better than ever’

Monday, May 31, 2004

HOLIDAY, Fla. - The shrinking Medicare market for power wheelchairs in Region C isn’t getting the best of Mobility Express. The 19-year-old company opened two more locations in Florida last month, scheduled the grand opening of another location in Reading, Pa., and is shopping for new markets in California.

“When you do this business right, really right, it should not hurt your growth or cash flow or anything,” said Joe Rached, president of the family-owned business. “We’re growing better than ever.”

Like most in Region C, Rached’s Medicare business is deteriorating. But unlike many consumer mobility suppliers, Medicare was not the mainstay payer at Mobility Express, comprising just 15-20% of its business today.

“If you go back to 1985 when we started, most of the business was cash business,” said Rached. “So we’ve been focusing on running our business as it was before 1996, when Medicare really didn’t exist [for power mobility].”

Mobility Express operates as two divisions. Rached runs a handful of wholly owned retail shops and serves as supplier to every other company doing business as Mobility Express. The family-owned company private labels 12 Mobility Express scooters and two power chairs.

Mobility Express has outsourced its billing to two different companies, but reviews all Medicare claims internally. “We go by the book 100%,” he said.

Despite the power chair crackdown, Rached said he is still witnessing abusive practices in Florida.

“Many people walk through our doors here and we tell them you are not qualified,” said Rached. “But two weeks later, they come back with a brand new power chair and want to buy a lift from us. It’s still happening, believe it or not.”