Amid budget woes, governor vetoes DME bill

Sunday, August 31, 2008

ALBANY, N.Y.--With a reported $6.4 billion budget shortfall hanging over his head, Gov. David Paterson vetoed a bill in August aimed at improving access to durable medical equipment for the disabled.

“Certainly a lot of people asked him to support it,” said Carol Napierski, executive director of the New York Medical Equipment Providers (NYMEP) Association.

The bill passed in June 142-0 in the State Assembly and 61-0 in the Senate. Co-sponsored by Sens. John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, and William Larkin, R-Cornwall-on-Hudson, the bill would have established a multi-agency council to write documentation guidelines for prior approval of DME such as a checklist of required documentation and a set timeframe for making determinations.

Providers had hoped the council would have more clearly defined coverage policies for DME.

“There is a lot that is left up to interpretation,” said Doug Westerdahl, chairman of NYMEP’s Medicaid committee and president of Monroe Wheelchairs, based in Rochester. “NYMEP has been asking for clarification on a lot of those coverage policies for close to a year now.”

Napierski said NYMEP will continue meeting regularly with the state’s Medicaid program to address DME access issues.